There are lots of different offers out there – so make sure you find the best one for your family
Supermarkets are topping up Healthy Start vouchers to help families on low incomes squeeze more out of their food budget.
Retailers have chosen different ways of helping the parents of young children who get the vouchers, so it pays to be clued up on what we can get and where.
What are Healthy Start vouchers?
It’s a government initiative to help struggling families and mums-to-be with vouchers that they can put towards milk and food.
To qualify, we have to be at least 10 weeks’ pregnant or have a child under four. We must also receive Child Tax Credit (but we only qualify if our family’s annual income is £16,190 or less), Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit, or Universal Credit (but again we only qualify if our family earns £408 or less per month).
The vouchers are worth £4.25 a week (increased from £3.10 in April) and if we have a child under one we could get two vouchers a week.
They can be used to buy milk, infant formula, fruit and veg, and other nutritious foods like dried and tinned beans and lentils.
(In Scotland it’s different and we apply for help through Best Start Foods for payments through pregnancy up until the time our child is three.)
So what are the supermarkets doing?
Many have decided to increase the value of the vouchers and meet the extra cost themselves so that we can buy a bit more without feeling the pinch.
Co-op has increased the value of the vouchers by £1, taking the amount of help to £5.25 a week if we get one voucher (this is in England only).
At Sainsbury’s every time we use a Healthy Start voucher we receive a £2 shopping coupon to use the next time we buy fruit and veg (England only), and Iceland give us a free £1 bag of frozen veg with every voucher (UK wide).
Waitrose top up our vouchers so that they’re worth £5.75 at the till rather than £4.25.
How can I apply for vouchers?
If we don’t currently get Healthy Start vouchers but think we might be entitled to them, we can apply at healthystart.nhs.uk/how-to-apply/ – we’ll have to print off the form to fill out and send back so if we don’t have a printer we should call 0345 607 6823.
We can also ask our midwife or health visitor to get a form for us.And don’t forget to check out all the delicious and cheap recipes from cooks like Jamie Oliver, the Hairy Bikers and Jack Monroe that we’ve collected on our website.