The Bishop of Gloucester received the following correction to a written answer on 14th December 2022:
Lord Markham (Con): I would like to amend a written answer that I gave to the House on the 7 November 2022.
An incorrect figure was provided in my reply to HL2636, which was asked by The Lord Bishop of Gloucester. The question was: “To ask His Majesty’s Government how many recipients of Healthy Start vouchers are not in receipt of prepaid cards despite remaining eligible for the scheme.”
The reply stated that “The NHS Business Services Authority estimates that as of 18 October 2022, there were 2,954 households previously were in receipt of paper vouchers which have not successfully applied to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme. “
However, it has since been brought to my attention that the figures supplied by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) had a typographical error. The answer should have stated that “the NHS Business Services Authority estimates that, as of 18 October 2022, there were 42,954 households which previously were in receipt of paper vouchers which have not successfully applied to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme.” I apologise that the incorrect figures were inadvertently supplied.
Further to the revised answer, I am also able to share a more recent estimate. As of 27 November 2022, the NHSBSA estimates that there are now 35,284 households which previously were in receipt of paper vouchers which have not successfully applied to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme. I would like to clarify that some of these households will not have reapplied to the prepaid card scheme because they no longer meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme. This could be because their child has reached the age of four or because their household income has changed.
I would also like to provide some context about the scheme’s digitisation, and the transition from paper vouchers to prepaid cards. The latest available data shows that uptake of the scheme by the eligible population increased overall, from 55% in March 2021, to 72% in March 2022. Since the paper voucher scheme closed at the end of March 2022, the number of households on the Healthy Start scheme has continued to increase, from 273,280 on the 31 March, to 323,136 on the 27 November.
I would also like to share details of the activity that the NHSBSA has undertaken to support households which were in receipt of paper vouchers to apply for the digitised prepaid card scheme. Since September 2021, the NHSBSA sent multiple communications to all paper voucher beneficiaries to encourage them to apply for the prepaid card scheme. This includes a total of four invitation letters to their home or email address, two leaflets in voucher packs and text messages to those who had mobile numbers on their accounts. There was also targeted social media activity to encourage people to apply to the prepaid card scheme. Stakeholders and local organisations also supported the transition by raising awareness with beneficiaries. Additionally, the NHSBSA actively promotes the scheme through their digital channels and have created free tools to help stakeholders promote the scheme at a local level.
I have also asked the NHSBSA to update me on their future plans to promote uptake of the Healthy Start scheme among all eligible groups.