Healthy Start, a government scheme under which disadvantaged new mothers and mothers-to-be in Britain get fruit and vegetable tokens has been misused, a report claims.
These tokens which are worth more than Ģ300 a year to ensure a healthy diet for economically poor families are being exchanged for cigarette and alcohol and other things not included in the scheme, such as nappies, baby products, general groceries, bread, eggs and meat.
Nevertheless, the report stated that the misuse is not frequent. Of the 2.6 million vouchers issued in a month, the Department of Health gets less than 15 reports of retailers who have given out items not included in the scheme. A spokesperson said, "'Voucher misuse is rare and is dwarfed by the benefits. We are working with retailers to drive it down still further."
The Healthy Start programme, initiated by the Labour government on the lines of WWII scheme to provide free milk, will include frozen vegetables and fruit from April this year.