Letter to Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs

17 June 2020

Dear Minister,

Food Access for Vulnerable People

Today, the Health Services Journal (HSJ) states that in England, “government is set to cease its ‘shielding’ programme for those at highest risk from coronavirus at the end of July 2020” and that the ‘shielding list’ will be maintained in case a resurgence of the Covid19.

Many vulnerable people who are on the ‘shielding list due to age or infirmity were already faced with food access issues prior to the pandemic. Is it the intention of Welsh government to retain the ‘food box’ scheme in some form to enable food packages, medicine and sanitiser deliveries to be offered to people who are unable to access the Internet, or otherwise?

The scheme in certain respects was necessarily a rough and ready but timely measure. What data has been collected and what does it reveal? For example, in terms of choice, bespoke dietary needs, variable take-up, the role of local authorities and how this might feed into future planning? For example, do we have information on the local use of the school meals service, or the ‘meals on wheels’ service to provide freshly cooked food for those unable to properly prepare food themselves?

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, which is leading the programme, told HSJ: ”We’ve always said we will be looking at making life easier for those having to shield, when it is safe to do so. We are considering the next steps for the shielding programme beyond the end of June, based on the latest medical and scientific advice”. Where it has been successful we trust that the Government will be minded to continue the scheme. Where it has been less successful could it be continued with an appropriate tweak? This will be a positive move and show Welsh Government making a real difference where it matters.

Yours sincerely, David Smith

Secretary, Co-ops & Mutuals Wales