Little-known way to get up to £442 worth of free food if you're on benefits including Universal Credit | The Sun

Little-known way to get up to £442 worth of free food if you're on benefits including Universal Credit | The Sun


NEW or expectant parents can get up to £442 worth of free food a year through a little-known trick.

The Healthy Start Scheme is open to anyone more than 10 weeks pregnant or with a child under four-years-old and on benefits.

If eligible, you are issued with a Healthy Start card which you can use in a number of supermarkets and retailers.

You can use the card to buy plain liquid cow's milk, fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried and tinned pulses and infant formula milk.

You can also use it to purchase vitamins and vitamin drops for your baby or young child.

The maximum amount you can get your card topped up by is £8.50 a week, which totals £442 a year.

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But recent figures suggest over 200,000 parents across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are missing out on the help.

Who is eligible and how do I apply?

New or expectant parents can claim help through the Healthy Start Scheme.

You can apply if you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or if you have any children under four.

You also have to be living in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

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You will also normally need to be claiming one of the following benefits:

  • 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
  • Universal Credit with no earned income or total earned income of £408 or less per month for the family

However, you can also apply for the scheme if you are under 18 and not on any benefits.

How you apply varies depending on which benefits you receive.

Those on Universal Credit can apply online on the Healthy Start website.

You can also apply online if you are on Child Tax Credit, your family's annual income is £16,190 or less and you don't receive Working Tax Credit.

If you are on Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit and Working Tax Credit, you have to apply by email or phone.

You can email [email protected] or call 0300 330 7010.

Bear in mind phone lines are only open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.

Scottish residents can apply for help via the Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

How much can I get?

The scheme is worth £4.25 a week and double that if you have a child under the age of one.

It used to be that you received paper vouchers but this was replaced with a prepaid card that's topped and you scan.

You can use the card at any location where Mastercard is accepted. This includes:

  • supermarkets
  • convenience stores
  • grocery stores
  • drug stores and pharmacies
  • markets
  • dairy product stores
  • butcher shops
  • petrol stations

You can't use the prepaid card for online shopping, or to withdraw cash from an ATM.

What other help can parents get?

If you're a parent on benefits, there's a range of support on offer to you beyond the Healthy Start scheme.

First, you might be able to get £500 towards the cost of having a child via a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You qualify if you are on any number of benefits, including Income Support, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit.

You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of your baby’s due date or within six months of the baby’s birth.

You can apply for the grant on the Government's website.

Meanwhile, you might be able to get the cost of school uniform covered via a school uniform grant.

But the help isn't a legal obligation for councils so what you can get depends on where you live.

You have to apply through your local council.

If you don't know what local authority you fall under, you can use the Government's council locator tool on its website.

You just have to enter your postcode and it will tell you what authority area you fall under.

You can also get free school meals for your kids if you are on certain benefits including Universal Credit.

You have to apply through your local authority who will either apply for the extra funding from Government or ask you to contact your council directly.

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You can apply via your council's website.

The exact amount you'll get depends on where you are, but ranges from around £2.15 to £2.50 per day, or around £400-£500 each school year.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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