Millions of Brits could lose out on £442 of free food due to benefits rules
LOW-INCOME families could face losing access to free state-backed food if they haven’t switched to Universal Credit after having a baby. New parents are being told they can no longer receive …
Pregnant women get one voucher a week, and parents also get one voucher for each child between one and four, which is equal to at least £221 in a year.These include:Income SupportHowever, parents are now reporting being told that if they received ESA while pregnant, they can't continue to get the vouchers once their child is born unless they switch to
Disability News ServiceThis is despite the Gov.uk guidance stating that ESA claimants can apply for the vouchers.A spokesperson for the department of health and social care told The Sun: “Claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe they will be better off.Read more: The Sun »
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Eligible families get one or two vouchers per week, per child, depending how old each child is. If you have a child who is younger than 12-months-old, you get two vouchers each week. That means in the first year of your child's life you could get £442. Pregnant women get one voucher a week, and parents also get one voucher for each child between one and four, which is equal to at least £221 in a year. As well as being pregnant or having a child under four, the also lists certain benefits you must be receiving to qualify. These include: Child Tax Credit (but only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less) income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Income Support Pension Credit Universal Credit (but only if your family earns £408 or less per month from employment) However, parents are now reporting being told that if they received ESA while pregnant, they can't continue to get the vouchers once their child is born unless they switch to This would involve a new assessment which can take time and mean they miss out on payments or even qualify for a lower amount. The Disability News Service has reported of one mum who accused the government of "blackmailing disabled people onto Universal Credit" after being told she was no longer eligible for the vouchers. She was on ESA and received the vouchers while pregnant but said she was no longer eligible once her son was born. This is despite the Gov.uk guidance stating that ESA claimants can apply for the vouchers. 2 The Gov.uk website still lists ESA claimants as eligible for Healthy Start vouchers A spokesperson for the department of health and social care told The Sun: “Claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe they will be better off. "The Government encourages everyone to check their benefit entitlement using a benefit calculator before making any changes which cannot be reversed. “We are reviewing the information held on the government website to ensure this accurately reflects the current eligibility criteria for the scheme.” The Sun has asked why the Gov.uk website currently states that ESA and other legacy benefit claimants can apply and when this changed. It comes as the government continues its rollout of Universal Credit, which involves switching people from legacy benefits which may mean new applications and delays. Andrew Forsey, national director of campaign group Feed Britain, is urging claimants to ensure they are getting the correct benefits to be eligible and urged the government to make the criteria clearer. He said many families were also missing out due to a switch from paper to card vouchers since last year, which are not yet accepted everywhere. Forsey told The Sun: "Hard-pressed families are in need of every bit of help they can get at the moment. "For the government to put up even more barriers to schemes like Healthy Start, which offer an effective way for families to stretch their budgets further, is pretty appalling." How can I apply for Healthy Start vouchers? You can apply for the vouchers by downloading an application form from the Healthy Start website . Print it off, fill it in and send it to Freepost RRTR-SYAE-JKCR, Healthy Start Issuing Unit, PO Box 1067, Warrington, WA55 1EG. If you don’t have a printer, you can call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 and get a form sent to you. You can also get an application form from your midwife or health visitor. Alternatively, you can You will have to provide your: Name