Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the proposals for Best Start Foods and Vitamins to replace the current Healthy Start system when powers are devolved. Citizens advice bureaux in Scotland provide advice on eligibility and claiming Healthy Start Vouchers to help clients maximise their income, alongside providing advice on claiming benefits that ‘passport’ people into eligibility for the vouchers, such as Universal Credit and Income Support.
CAS has previously recommended that Best Start Foods is aligned with the new Best Start Grant. Our specific comments on Best Start Grant can be found in our responses to the consultation on draft regulations, and to the ‘A New Future for Social Security in Scotland’ consultation
In addition, CAS is supporting bureaux to carry out research on the varying cost of paying for essentials in different areas. This work follows research by Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service which showed the cost of an average basket of essentials varied from £8.79 to £24.70 across the local authority, and showed evidence of a ‘rural premium’ as well as a ‘poverty premium’.