Healthy Start scheme: Sainsbury’s to top up vouchers as DWP raises payments
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The Healthy Start scheme will provide eligible recipients with vouchers worth £4.25 to spend on healthy and fresh produce. To be eligible for this support, claimants will also need to be in receipt of certain benefits such as Universal Credit or Income Support and on December 9, Sainsbury’s confirmed it would be topping up this support for its customers.
Sainsbury’s takes action
In the last few days, Sainsbury’s announced it will top up Government funded Healthy Start vouchers by £2, in a move that could help feed more than half a million pregnant women and children in need this festive season.
Available from December 9 through to January 7, customers who use a Healthy Start paper voucher at checkout will automatically receive a £2 coupon that can be spent during their next shop until January 21.
Sainsbury’s explained this is “the latest step” the company is taking in a bid to tackle food poverty. The retailer recently launched its annual Help Brighten a Million Christmases campaign, which encourages customers to donate what they can to those who need it most. Sainsbury’s then matches every single donation up to the value of £1.5million.
With the aim of raising a total of over £3million, Help Brighten a Million Christmases builds on Sainsbury’s year-round work with its charitable partners to provide vital support to those who need it most. Sainsbury’s is committed to ensuring that more Britons can celebrate this year without hunger, making sure it’s a “Christmas to savour for everyone”.
Ruth Cranston, Group Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Sainsbury’s, commented: “Earlier this year we helped families across the UK by topping up their Healthy Start vouchers with a £2 coupon, and today we have announced that it’s an initiative we are bringing back this winter to help those in need over the festive period, a time that we know is difficult for many families.
“Each and every child has the right to healthy and nutritious food, and as part of our new brand mission ‘Helping Everyone Eat Better’, we hope this goes some way towards helping families provide that.”
The Government recently raised the worth of the vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25 which many believed was in direct response to lobbying from Marcus Rashford.
In response to Sainsbury’s efforts, Mr Rashford said: “The fight to end child food poverty is far from over and I’m proud to see Sainsbury’s as one of the founding members of the Taskforce financially commit to supporting users of the Healthy Start Scheme this winter.
“This Christmas could be one of the toughest on record and these steps will inevitably alleviate some of the pressure on the shoulders of families up and down the country. A big thank you to all involved.”
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To be eligible for Healthy Start vouchers, claimants must be living in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Those in Scotland will need to apply for the Best Start Foods scheme instead.
Claimants will be eligible if they’re either 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under four years old.
Additionally, claimants must be in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit (but only if their family’s annual income is £16,190 or less) or Universal Credit (but only if their family earns £408 or less per month from employment).
Women will also be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme if they’re pregnant and under 18, even if they do not receive any benefits.
To apply for Healthy Start vouchers, claimants will need to head to the Government’s website. It is also possible to get an application form from a midwife or “health visitor”, or by phoning the Healthy Start helpline.
This helpline can be called on 0345 607 6823.
It should be noted there is also a range of Government support measures for families in the early stages of having a child. This can include Maternity Allowance and Sure Start Maternity Grants.
Additionally, Universal Credit itself can also help with childcare costs.
Those on Universal Credit may be able to claim back up to 85 percent of their childcare costs. For this to apply, the claimant (and their partner if they live with them) will usually need to either be working or have a job offer.
The most that can be claimed back each month is £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children.
Universal Credit claimants are issued with a monthly standard allowance which is based on their age and relationship status. However, additional amounts will be awarded for those who have children. If they have one or two children, they’ll get an extra amount for each child.
If they have three or more, they’ll get an extra amount for at least two children.
Claimants can only get an extra amount for more children if their children were born before April 6 2017, they were already claiming for three or more children before April 6 2017 or other exceptions apply.
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