Universal Credit: Healthy Start scheme payments to rise for eligible claimants – check now

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Universal Credit claimants can receive support from the Healthy tart voucher scheme so long as they qualify under certain rules. Recently, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed this support would be extended in a huge package.

On November 8, the DWP announced plans to introduce a new winter package to provide further support for children and families.

Within this package, it was confirmed Healthy Start payments would rise from £3.10 to £4.25 per week from April 2021.

Additionally, the DWP released plans to provide a “Winter Grant Scheme” which will provide local councils with £170million in funding.

This funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80 percent earmarked to support with food bills and will cover the period to the end of March 2021.

Local authorities will receive the funding from early December 2020 and they will be able to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.

Additionally, holiday activities, food programs and healthy start payments will be extended into 2021.

In welcoming the support, Thérèse Coffey had the following to say: “We want to make sure vulnerable people feel cared for throughout this difficult time and, above all, no one should go hungry or be unable to pay their bills this winter.

“We know this has been a challenging time for many, and we have consistently supported the lowest-paid families, protecting nine million jobs with furlough and boosting welfare support by £9.3billion.

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“This package builds on that support, and by extending our successful Holiday Activities and Food programme, as well as funding a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, we are making sure families get the help they need.”

To qualify for Healthy Start support, claimants need be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old and receive:

  • 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.

Once the vouchers are received, they can be used in any shop registered to take part in the scheme.

This involves a broad list of shops which includes corner shops, food co-ops, greengrocers, market stalls, milk floats or vans, pharmacies and supermarkets.

Participating shops should have Healthy Start stickers displayed in their windows but staff inside can also be asked for confirmation.

On the Healthy Start website, users will also be able to enter their postcode into a tool which will display all the retailers in the area taking part.

The vouchers can only be used for predesignated healthy foods, which includes fruit and vegetables, milk, instant formula milk and pulses.

Additionally, the scheme will allow applicants to receive Healthy Start vitamins.

Healthy Start, like many government schemes, has been affected by coronavirus recently and as such, adaptions have had to be made.

Due to the impact of coronavirus, the government have temporality extended validity of the Healthy Start vouchers by four weeks, giving claimants 12 weeks to use their entitlement and the government will keep this under review.

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