Thousands of mums urge politicians to address the baby formula crisis in special manifesto

Not all women are able to breastfeed and, as a result, rely on infant formula (Picture: PA)

While betting scandals, milkshake-based protests and the antics of Ed Davey dominate the election headlines, debates rage on over what the next Government should prioritise after July 4. 

And now, a group of mums have mobilised to have their say.

Users on parenting forum Mumsnet – the majority of whom are female – reckon they’re all pretty political-savvy. Around 92% say they vote in every General Election, a far higher figure than the UK’s overall turnout in the 2019 General Election: just 67%. But while being engaged with current affairs, Mumsnet users don’t feel listened to by those in power.

Sign the Formula For Change petition here.  

Parents on the website have now come together to create a ‘Mumsnet manifesto’ to send to politicians.

As well as demanding immediate action to tackle birth trauma and improve paternity leave, another key point on their list is ‘Reform of formula marketing regulations to ensure they are not penalising families.’ 

Baby banks across the nation are now reporting increasing demand for formula milk as parents struggle (Credits: Getty Images)

Currently, the high-price of baby formula means new parents are forced to skip meals, water down the product or even steal from supermarkets in a bid to feed their child.

The situation has become so dire that, in 2023, Metro launched the Formula for Change campaign in association with the charity Feed. Together, we wanted to fight to help parents find affordable ways to buy baby formula amid the cost of living crisis. A string of politicians including shadow health secretary Wes Streeting and MP Preet Gill, along with  a catalog of celebrities and Iceland CEO Richard Walker are among those who have backed the campaign.

As July 4 draws nearer, Mumsnet hopes their call to action will help more people realise how serious the baby formula crisis is. Hundreds of users have already emailed the ‘Mumnset Manifesto’ to their local councillors, MPs and MSPs in a bid to spread their message.

CEO and founder of the forum, Justine Roberts, tells Metro: ‘All our policy asks are based on the experiences of our users.  Over the past few years, we’ve heard repeatedly from mums who are struggling with the cost of formula, and who feel that it’s parents, rather than the big manufacturers, who are being punished by the ban on advertising low prices or including formula in promotions.  

The spiralling costs of baby essentials, such as formula milk, have led to families taking drastic action (Picture: Getty)

‘That’s why our manifesto calls for urgent action to change this legislation – in line with Metro and Feed’s Formula for Change campaign.  The next government must act immediately to ensure families already struggling with a cost of living crisis are no longer financially penalised by formula regulation.’

Under current guidelines, baby formula falls into the same category as tobacco and lottery items, and aren’t available to buy with cash alternatives. Tubs can cost anywhere between £7 and £15.

As a result, cash-strapped families can’t pay for a tub of baby formula using a loyalty card or coupons and retailers are banned from promoting it in any buy-one-get-one-free deal. Although some supermarkets now allow gift vouchers to be used, not all do.

Influencers Ladbaby and Ladbabymum are among those who have backed the campaign. The couple, real names Mark and Roxanne Hoyle, visited Metro’s offices to discuss their desire to see change for struggling families.

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Filmmaker Naomi Waring also recently spoke to Metro about her next project ‘MILK’ entirely inspired by the stark realities of the baby formula crisis. She said: ‘I was floored at how many people were struggling with feeding their children since the cost of living crisis and, honestly, MILK the film just spilled out of me. It was desperate to be written.’

Justine Roberts CBE, founder of Mumsnet, recently previously wrote in Metro about why she is backing the campaign.

She had said: ‘This won’t just ease the cost pressure for many families, it will also help tackle the stigma that comes from grouping formula in a category with lottery products and tobacco.

‘There are immediate practical steps the government can take to make things easier for families – and they should start with Formula For Change.’

Sign the Formula For Change petition here.

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