Income thresholds to be removed for Best Start Foods

Published 12 May 2023 Part of Cost of living crisisChildren and familiesEquality and rights

An estimated 20,000 additional people will become eligible for additional help to buy healthy foods when income thresholds are removed for Best Start Foods payments.

The Scottish Government benefit provides help to pregnant women or their partners as well as families with children aged up to three years old, so they can buy healthy food, milk or baby formula.

It is currently paid to people who receive qualifying benefits, so long as their incomes are not above set thresholds. The Scottish Government will introduce regulations that remove those thresholds increasing eligibility for Best Start Foods to around an additional 20,000 people from February 2024.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm is one of the Scottish Government’s three critical missions. Rising food prices disproportionately hurt those on the lowest incomes, so removing the threshold for qualifying benefits means around 20,000 people will now get vital help to buy healthy foods.

“Best Start Foods is one of our five family payments, including the Scottish Child Payment, which together could be worth more than £10,000 by the time a first child turns six and more than £20,000 by the time an eligible child is 16.

“As set out in our tackling child poverty plan, we will use all the resources available to provide immediate support to families, while seeking more powers to enable us to truly tackle poverty.”


The Scottish Government replaced the UK Healthy Start Voucher scheme in Scotland with Best Start Foods on 12 August 2019

Best Start Foods is delivered via a prepaid card and provides £19.80 every four weeks throughout pregnancy, £39.60 every four weeks from birth until a child turns one, then £19.80 every four weeks until a child turns three.

Applicants over 18 need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit (Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit with Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Pension Credit, income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). At present income thresholds also apply for some of these qualifying benefits.

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods –

Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026

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