The “Healthy Start” scheme is aimed towards mothers who are at pregnant or have a child under four years old.
So long as they qualify, mothers (and by extension families) can receive vouchers for basic foods like milk, fruits and vegetables.
To qualify for this scheme, the mother must be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child younger than four on top of receiving income support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit with a family income of £16,190 or less per year, pension credit or Universal Credit with no earned income or total earned income of £408 or less per month for the family.
Some who are under 18 and pregnant can also qualify without any of the previously mentioned benefits being needed.
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So long as the claimant qualifies, they’ll be send vouchers that can be used in over 30,000 shops in the UK. The vouchers are primarily aimed for food but there is an option to obtain coupons for pregnant vitamins, breastfeeding vitamins and vitamins for young children.
The individual vouchers will be worth £3.10 each and they are to be spent on milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, plain frozen fruit and vegetables and instant formula. One voucher a week will be received if the mother is pregnant or has a child aged between one and four.
Two vouchers a week will be received if the child is under one years old. On top of these vouchers, free vitamin supplements will be provided.
This could result in over £161 a year in vouchers for mothers with children aged over one years old, or over £322 a year for mothers with younger children.
The dedicated healthy start NHS website goes into more detail on what exactly the vouchers can and can’t be used for:
This must be plain cow’s milk and can be whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
It must also be pasteurised, sterilised, long-life or ultra-heat treated (UHT). It is not possible to spend the vouchers on flavoured milk, coloured milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, goat’s milk, soya milk, powdered milk (unless it’s infant formula) or milk with anything added to it such as milkshakes or vitamin-enriched milk.
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Plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables
This means any kind of plain fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables, whole or chopped, packaged or loose.
The vouchers cannot be spent on any fruit or vegetables which have added ingredients such as fat (oil), salt, sugar or flavourings – including oven chips and battered onion rings.
They also can’t be spent on dried, canned, juiced or pre-cooked fruit and vegetables or on smoothies.
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Infant formula milk
This must be infant formula milk that is based on cow’s milk and says on the packaging that it can be used from birth.
Infant formulas that are not based on cow’s milk – such as soya formulas and goat’s milk formulas – or on any follow-on formulas that say on the packaging that they are for babies aged six months or older are unacceptable.
Applying for this scheme will require coordination from NHS staff. There is an online form which needs to be completed and printed out.
Once the form has been printed, the mother (or mother to be) will need to get their midwife, health visitor or registered doctor or nurse to sign it.
Once this is all done, the form must be posted to the government. The NHS also provide an interactive tool for helping applicants find local retailers that use the scheme.
All that is needed is a postcode and the tool will highlight the nearest retailers that take the vouchers.
The NHS detail that it is unlikely that there will be no retailers near an applicants location but they can be contacted for help if this is the case.
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