Pregnant women and families with babies and children across North Ayrshire and Scotland receiving certain benefits are to be offered increased access to healthy foods.
The SNP Government’s Best Start Foods payment replaces the Healthy Start paper vouchers with a new payment card, and is now open for applications.
The card, which works in a similar way to bank cards, can be used to buy a variety of healthy foods including milk and infant formula, fruit and vegetables, pulses and eggs.
Eligible families on low income benefits will get £17.00 on their card every four weeks during pregnancy and for any children between one and three years old. For babies up to the age of one, the payment increases to £34.00.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:
“This Government is committed to doing all it can to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Scotland and give them the best start in life. That means ensuring low-income families can access the healthy foods that some may otherwise struggle to afford.
“Introducing a new payment card to replace paper vouchers will enable families to access this vital support without fear of stigma.
“We have created more ways for people to apply and have combined the application process with Best Start Grant so families can apply for four different payments on a single form.
“As with all our benefits, we want to ensure that everyone who is entitled to a payment is encouraged to apply. We will work with partners including midwives and a range of other healthcare professionals to promote Best Start Foods to ensure as many families as possible know they are entitled to this support.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“One of the flagship policies of the SNP Government is to ensure that every child has the best start in life and I am delighted that Best Start Foods has now been launched in addition to the Best Start Grant.
“These funds make life easier for babies and young children of families across North Ayrshire who are in receipt of Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefits and other benefits.
“Raising a young family can be a real struggle but I believe every child who comes into this world deserves an equal start.”
The card can be used to buy fresh eggs, milk, (plain cow’s milk and first infant formula), fruit and vegetables fresh, frozen or tinned, pulses (peas, lentils and beans - dried, fresh, frozen or tinned).
Existing users will be invited to apply on a phased and regional basis between August and the end of March 2020. In the meantime they can continue to use their vouchers.
For more information on Best Start Foods and the Best Start Grants, visit www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods or phone 0800 182 2222.