Income thresholds to be removed from healthy food payments from 2024

Payments to help parents buy healthy food will no longer be means-tested, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Around 20,000 people will become eligible for extra help to buy healthy food when income thresholds are removed for the Best Start Foods payments.

Families will still have to get qualifying benefits such as child tax credits or universal credit to receive the benefit.

Previously, incomes had to be below set thresholds.

Regulations will be introduced that remove thresholds to increase eligibility for the benefit from February 2024.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said the move is part of efforts to tackle poverty (PA)
Shirley-Anne Somerville said the move is part of efforts to tackle poverty (PA)

Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm is one of the Scottish Government’s three critical missions.

“Rising food prices disproportionately hurt those on the lowest incomes, so removing the threshold for qualifying benefits means around 20,000 people will now get vital help to buy healthy foods.

“Best Start Foods is one of our five family payments, including the Scottish Child Payment, which together could be worth more than £10,000 by the time a first child turns six and more than £20,000 by the time an eligible child is 16.

“As set out in our tackling child poverty plan, we will use all the resources available to provide immediate support to families, while seeking more powers to enable us to truly tackle poverty.”

The benefit replaced the UK Healthy Start Voucher scheme in 2019.

It is delivered by a pre-paid card and gives £19.80 every four weeks throughout pregnancy. Families will then get £39.60 every four weeks until a child turns one and then £19.80 every four weeks until a child turns three.

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