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PARENTS and mums-to-be can boost their Healthy Start vouchers to claim almost £600 worth of free food a year by shopping at Waitrose.
Healthy Start vouchers increased from £3.10 to £4.25 this month, and the posh supermarket has confirmed it’s still applying a £1.50 bonus on top.
We explain how to get more with your Healthy Start vouchers at Waitrose and the Co-opCredit: Alamy
But the supermarket has confirmed this £1.50 bonus amount will continue to apply even now the vouchers have increased – meaning they’re now worth £5.75 at Waitrose.
As some families are entitled to two vouchers per week, this means the amount they can get is £11.50 – or £598 over the year.
For those who get one voucher per week, the amount would be £299 over 12 months.
What help is available for parents for childcard costs?
CHILDCARE can be a costly business but here is how you can get help:
- 30 hours free childcare – Parents of three and four-year-olds can apply for 30 hours free childcare a week. To qualify you must work at least 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage and earn less than £100,000 a year.
- Tax credits – For children under 20, some families can get help with childcare costs.
- Tax-free childcare – Available to working families and the self-employed, for every £8 you put in the government will add an extra £2.
The extra amount is covered by the supermarket and is applied automatically when you use the vouchers at the till.
The Co-op has also confirmed it will be continuing to offer a £1 top-up of the vouchers, which it introduced in December, making them worth £4.50 in store.
This boost is also still in place now the vouchers have increased, which means they are now worth £5.25 in Co-op stores.
For families who claim two vouchers, this means they’ll get £10.50 each week, or £546 over the year.
It’s important to note that these extra amounts only apply in Waitrose and Co-op stores.
If you shop elsewhere, your Healthy Start vouchers will be worth the standard £4.25 amount.
Waitrose told The Sun its top-up will be kept “under review” so the supermarket could choose to pull it at any time.
The Co-op said its top-up is “on-going” and doesn’t have an end date.
Supermarkets don’t have to add extra value to the Healthy Start vouchers.
For example, Lidl had been topping up the vouchers to £4.25 since December – covering the extra £1.15 itself until April.
But is has now scrapped the boost when the Governemnt increase came into force.
Standard Healthy Start vouchers are worth £221 over the year if you claim one per week, or £442 if you get two vouchers.
Who is eligible for Healthy Start vouchers?
To get the vouchers, you have to claim certain benefits, and either be pregnant or have a child under the age of four.
If you have a child under the age of one, you could get two vouchers a week.
Benefits that will entitle you to the vouchers include:
- Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
- Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (but only if you are over 10 weeks pregnant)
- Working Tax Credit run-on (this is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week)
If you’re under 18 and more than 10 weeks pregnant, you qualify for Healthy Start vouchers until your baby is born regardless of whether you claim any benefits.
After your baby is born, you’ll only continue to get the vouchers if you also claim qualifying benefits.
Families in Scotland aren’t eligible for Healthy Start and must apply for help through Best Start Foods instead.
What can I buy with the vouchers?
You can only redeem the vouchers against certain products, with the idea being that they’re used for healthy foods.
The vouchers can be spent on:
- Cow’s milk
- Fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- Infant formula milk
- Fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
You can also free Healthy Start vitamins.
Where can I spend the vouchers?
The vouchers can be spent in certain supermarkets, corner shops, greengrocers, market stalls, pharmacies, food co-ops and milk floats or vans.
Some of the most well-known retailers that accept them include Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
You can find your nearest shops that accept them using the Healthy Start tool on its website.
It’s best to check the above website first as not all shops take the vouchers.
How do I apply for the vouchers?
You can download an application form from the Healthy Start website, which you then print off, fill in and sign and send it to:
Healthy Start Issuing Unit
PO Box 1067
If you don’t have a printer, you can call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 and get one sent to you.
You then fill it in and post it back.
Once your application is approved, you’ll have the vouchers posted out to you every four weeks.
We’ve rounded up 16 freebies for parents and new mums including nappies, baby wipes and Lego magazines.
Plus, here’s how to make hundreds each week using odd-job sites.