Pregnant women and families with babies and young children look set to benefit from a new payment scheme designed to promote healthy eating, the Scottish Government has announced.
The new Best Start Foods payment is replacing the UK Government’s Healthy Start paper vouchers with a new payment card, and is open for applications from Monday 12 August.
The Scottish Government says replacing paper vouchers with a payment card will help to reduce the stigma associated with claiming welfare support.
Under the new system, eligible families on low income benefits will be paid £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, this payment will increase to £34 every four weeks.
This 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).
Families already in receipt of paper vouchers under the UK Government’s Healthy Start scheme will continue to receive vouchers until they are invited to join the new scheme, between August and the end of March 2020.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick 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.”
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