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‘Cash first’ support for families struggling with high baby formula costs in Scotland

todayFebruary 10, 2024 1

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‘Cash first’ support for families struggling with high baby formula costs in Scotland

The Scottish government is backing a “cash first” strategy to help families struggling with the high costs of baby formula.

A new infant feeding “toolkit” for frontline workers and volunteers calls for more support for parents so that “no baby in Scotland is left without the food they need to grow and thrive”.

It comes after a Sky News investigation last year highlighted the desperate measures UK families are having to take due to the high costs of baby formula.

Prices in the shops have risen by 25% over the past two years.

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2023: Baby formula – ‘Families exploited’

The new Scottish government guidance comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reported in December that the prices parents pay have risen faster than the manufacturers’ production costs.

Campaigners have accused manufacturers of profiteering and the industry is currently under further investigation by the CMA.

In the new guidance, the Scottish government said it is “taking a cash first approach through providing cash payments or cash equivalents (such as shopping cards)”.

It added: “This should be provided alongside advice and support to maximise income and, if immediate support is required, access to infant formula milk (powdered or ready-to-drink) or breastfeeding support, for as long as it is needed.”

The Scottish government’s research found 53% of babies in Scotland are fully formula fed by 6-8 weeks but that figure jumps to 74% in the most deprived areas.

Baby formula

The guidance also acknowledges that “families in crisis do not always reach out for early help or may wait until they can no longer cope to seek support due to feelings of shame, stigma or they just do not know where to go for this help”.

The toolkit states that “cash first” solutions from health workers or other volunteers must be underpinned by three key principles of “dignity, respect and choice”.

Read more:
Baby formula prices a ‘catastrophe’- MP
Sunak ‘sad’ parents forced to water down baby formula

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Rest of UK ‘should really follow suit’

Infant nutrition charity Feed UK helped develop the toolkit and co-founder Erin Williams welcomed the news.

She told Sky News: “It’s great to see it in black and white – it is pragmatic and realistic guidance that will actually work to bring organisations together on this issue which was really lacking before.

“For the first time ever, we have government backed guidance supporting organisations to implement a cash first approach and to say it is okay to hand out baby formula to parents.”

“The rest of the UK should really follow suit as quickly as possible because these problems with the price of formula milk are not going away,” she added.

Earlier this week, the Food Foundation called for manufacturers to continue lowering prices after Danone cut the price of its Aptamil brand by 7% in January.

Feed UK and other campaigners have also called for other longer-term measures to help families including the idea of a price cap for baby formula.

Written by: Newsroom

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