More than £2.3m left unspent on families' pre-paid food cards

Thousands of Best Start cards have been activated but no money has been spent on them.

Pre-paid cards which help families buy healthy food still have £2.3m on them to be spent, according to government figures.

Social security minister Ben MacPherson said more than 7,000 Best Start Food cards have never been activated since their introduction in 2019.

More than 3,000 have been activated but no money has been spent on them.

The Scottish Government is urging anyone who has a card to check the balance and ensure they can use them.

Eligible to people with children under three who are on certain benefits, Best Start Food payments are delivered via a pre-paid card and are topped up with up to £36 for each eligible child every four weeks.

Some cardholders will already have received letters encouraging them to find and use their cards.

Macpherson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to doing what it can to make sure that money reaches the people who need it most, especially during this cost of living crisis.

“People are entitled to the money which may have built up on their cards.

The pre-paid cards can help families buy healthier foodiStock

“So we are appealing to people who applied for Best Start Foods to look out their card, make sure it’s activated and use their balance.

“They work like any chip and pin card, and can be used in supermarkets and shops to buy healthy food, milk and formula.”

Shona Singer, of Aberdeenshire North Foodbank, said: “We know from speaking to the people who use our service that the card can make a huge difference to their lives.

“We support any measure which allows people greater access to affordable healthy food.

“People could be sitting on sums of money which could help enormously and I’d urge people who think they’ve received a card to look it out, check their balance and start using it.”

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