Extra Support For 30,000 Families – Best Start Foods

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Plans to remove all income thresholds from Best Start Foods by 2023-24 have been announced as part of the second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’.

This will increase eligibility to all people in receipt of a qualifying benefit. As a result, an additional 30,000 people are expected to benefit from Best Start Foods.

Best Start Foods is delivered via a prepaid card and provides £18 every four weeks throughout pregnancy, £36 every four weeks from birth until a child turns one, then £18 every four weeks from one until a child turns three.

The implementation of this change will be part of the successful delivery in the coming years of our significant, wider benefits programme.

Minister for Social Security Ben Macpherson said:

 “Tackling child poverty is a national mission for us. We continue to take the necessary steps to reach the ambitious targets set out in our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. Social security is one of the main pillars of this plan and will help us to  deliver support directly into the pockets of those families who need it the most.
“The cost of healthy food was already a pressure for parents and carers, and the cost of living increases are only making this more challenging. We will remove the income thresholds for Best Start Foods so that around 30,000 additional people who receive tax credits or certain benefits will be able to receive Best Start Foods by the end of financial year 2023-24.”

Sharon Hill, the Development Manager of Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust, which runs a community pantry in Midlothian serving local people, said:

 “We have been operating the pantry for less than a year but it is clear that people from all walks of life and backgrounds are looking for ways to cut costs when it comes to doing their essential food shopping.
“We encourage people to ensure that they get all the benefits that are available to them and we welcome any move to open that support up to include more people.
“Like many people involved in community pantries and food banks our aim is to help people get to a place where they don’t require these services any more.”

Background

  • The Scottish Government replaced the UK Healthy Start Voucher scheme in Scotland with Best Start Foods on 12 August 2019
  • Best Start Foods aims to help tackle the impacts of child poverty by supporting low income families to buy healthy foods
  • Best Start Foods is delivered via a prepaid card and provides £18 every four weeks throughout pregnancy, £36 every four weeks from birth until a child turns one, then £18 every four weeks until a child turns three
  • The card can be used to buy healthy food, including eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables and pulses
  • Applicants under 18 will be eligible for Best Start Foods during pregnancy and up until their child turns one, without the need to be in receipt of benefits
  • Applicants over 18 need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit. At present, income thresholds also apply for some of these qualifying benefits.  These income thresholds will be removed by 2023-24
  • Eligible families, and carers can find out more and apply at mygov.scot/beststart or by calling Social Security Scotland free on 0800 182 2222
  • Best Start Foods is part of a package of Five Family Payments. By the end of 2022, the Scottish Government’s package of Five Family Payments for low income families will be worth up to a maximum of over £10,000 by the time a family’s first child turns 6, and £9,700 for second and subsequent children

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