PARENTS and mums-to-be who claim Healthy Start vouchers will see this help increase by up to £120 a year from today.
The Healthy Start scheme is a Government initiative that provides vouchers for struggling families to put towards milk, vegetables and other foods.
As of today, the value of the vouchers is going up from £3.10 per week to £4.25 – a rise of £1.15.
If you claim one voucher per week, it means the total amount you get over the year has risen from £161.20 to £221.
For those who are eligible for two vouchers per week, the weekly amount you’ll get will be £8.50 instead of £6.20.
This means over the year, the amount you can claim is going up from £322.40 to £442 – an increase of £119.60.
What help is available for parents for childcard costs?
CHILDCARE can be a costly business but here is how you can get help:
- 30 hours free childcare – Parents of three and four-year-olds can apply for 30 hours free childcare a week. To qualify you must work at least 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage and earn less than £100,000 a year.
- Tax credits – For children under 20, some families can get help with childcare costs.
- Tax-free childcare – Available to working families and the self-employed, for every £8 you put in the government will add an extra £2.
Before the increase, some supermarkets had decided to top up the vouchers early, off their own back.
For example, Healthy Start vouchers redeemed at Lidl have been worth £4.25 since December, with the supermarket covering the extra cost until the increase came into force today.
Co-op customers had been able to get £4.10 worth of food since December, although these too are now worth £4.25.
Waitrose announced in February that it had increased the value of Healthy Start vouchers spent in its stores to £4.60 – 35p more than the increase that come into effect today.
We're checking if this increase still stands, or whether it has gone down to £4.25 now.
The Healthy Start scheme was introduced in 2006 to replace a previous welfare food scheme.
Who is eligible for Healthy Start vouchers?
To get the vouchers, you have to claim certain benefits, and either be pregnant or have a child under four.
If you have a child under one, you could get two vouchers a week.
Benefits that will entitle you to the vouchers include:
- Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
- Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (but only if you are over 10 weeks pregnant)
- Working Tax Credit run-on (this is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week)
If you’re under 18 and more than 10 weeks pregnant, you qualify for Healthy Start vouchers until your baby is born regardless of whether you claim any benefits.
After your baby is born, you'll only continue to get the vouchers if you also claim qualifying benefits.
Families in Scotland aren't eligible for Healthy Start and must apply for help through Best Start Foods instead.
What can I buy with the vouchers?
You can only redeem the vouchers against certain products, with the idea being that they're used for healthy foods.
The vouchers can be spent on:
- Cow’s milk
- Fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- Infant formula milk
- Fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
You can also free Healthy Start vitamins.
Where can I spend the vouchers?
The vouchers can be spent in certain supermarkets, corner shops, greengrocers, market stalls, pharmacies, food co-ops and milk floats or vans.
Some of the most well-known retailers that accept them include Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury's.
You can find your nearest shops that accept them using the Healthy Start tool on its website.
It's best to check the above website first as not all shops take the vouchers.
How do I apply for the vouchers?
You can download an application form from the Healthy Start website, which you then print off, fill in and sign and send it to:
Healthy Start Issuing Unit
PO Box 1067
If you don’t have a printer, you can call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 and get one sent to you.
You then fill it in and post it back.
Once your application is approved, you’ll have the vouchers posted out to you every four weeks.
We've rounded up 16 freebies for parents and new mums including nappies, baby wipes and Lego magazines.
We've also looked at retailers, including Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing, that will give you money off if you recycle old clothes.
Plus, here's how to make hundreds each week using odd-job sites.
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