Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 1: Benefits and tax credits
9. Health benefits
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9. Health benefits

You may be able to get some help with the cost of: glasses and contact lenses; dental treatment;

travel to hospital.

You may be exempt from these charges or be able to claim a reduction on low income grounds.Footnote Pregnant women or parents or carers of children under four may also be able to get Healthy Start food vouchers and vitamins.

There is no charge for NHS eye and dental checks, prescriptions, wigs or fabric supports in Scotland.


Who is exempt from charges

You can be exempt either because you are getting a 'qualifying benefit' or because you are in one of the exempt groups.


Qualifying benefits

You get NHS dental treatment, vouchers for glasses, and certain fares to hospital if you get:

universal credit (UC) and have no earnings, or you earn £435 or less a month (if your UC does not include a a child, limited capability for work or limited capability for work-related activity element) or £935 or less a month (if your UC includes one or more of these elements); or

income support (IS); or

income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA); or

income-related employment and support allowance (ESA); or

child tax credit (CTC), with or without working tax credit (WTC), and your income for tax credit purposes is £15,276 or less; or

WTC with a disability or severe disability element and your income for tax credit purposes is £15,276 or less; or

guarantee credit of pension credit.


Exempt groups

You are eligible for free NHS dental treatment if: you are under 18; or you are under 19 in full-time education; or you are pregnant or have given birth in the last year; or you are under the Community Dental Service (for people who have difficulty getting treatment for reasons such as a disability); or you are an asylum seeker getting asylum support; or you get a war pension and need treatment for your war disablement; or you are a care leaver getting support from the local authority under s29 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

You are eligible for vouchers for glasses or contact lenses if: you are under 16; or you are under 19 in full-time education; or you have a prescription for complex lenses; or you are a Hospital Eye Service patient; or you are an asylum seeker getting asylum support; or you get a war pension and need treatment for your war disablement; or you are a care leaver getting support from the local authority under s29 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

You are eligible for help with fares to hospital if: the hospital is 30 or more miles away, or it involves a journey of five miles or more by sea, and you live in the Highlands or Islands – ie: the Highland region, Western Isles, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands; Arran, Great Cumbrae, Little Cumbrae; the area formerly covered by Argyll and Bute District Council; parts of Moray (Aberlour, Cabrach, Dallas, Dyke, Edinkillie, Forres, Inveravon, Kinloss, Kirkmichael, Knockando, Mortlach, Rafford, Rothes); or you are an asylum seeker getting asylum support; or you get a war pension and need treatment for your war disablement; or you are a care leaver getting support from the local authority under s29 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.


Low income scheme

If you are not on a qualifying benefit or in an exempt group and your capital is £16,000 or less, you may still be able to get help with the cost of dental treatment, glasses/contact lenses and fares to hospital under the low income scheme. Whether or not you get any help depends on how much income you have compared with a set level (based on IS but with some differences).


Healthy Start food vouchers and vitamins

You can get free Healthy Start food vouchers and vitamins if:Footnote

you are aged 18 or over and pregnant, and have been for more than 10 weeks, and you (or your partner) get IS or income-based JSA, income-related ESA, or get CTC (but not WTC) and have an income for tax credit purposes of £16,190 or less; or you are aged under 18 and pregnant, whether or not you get any of the above benefits; or

you have a child under four and get IS or income-based JSA, or get CTC (but not WTC, except during the four week run-on) and have an income for tax credit purposes of £16,190 or less; or

you get UC and in the last complete assessment period, or the one before that, you (and your partner) earned £408 or less.

From summer 2019, it is expected that the Healthy Start food voucher scheme will be replaced in Scotland by the Best Start food smart card. See www.cpag.org.uk/scottish-benefits for updates.


10. Housing benefit

Housing benefit (HB) is a means-tested benefit that helps low-income households with rent payments. You can get HB whether or not you are in work, provided you satisfy the conditions of entitlement.

Your local authority is responsible for the administration of HB.

HB is being replaced by universal credit (UC) and eventually most claimants who are on HB will be transferred to UC.


Who can claim housing benefit

If you are not in the UC system, you qualify for HB if:Footnote you or your partner are liable to pay rent on the dwelling you occupy as your home; and you are not in a category that is excluded from HB (see below); and you satisfy the 'habitual residence test', including having a 'right to reside', and are not a ’person subject to immigration control’. These terms are explained in CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook; and you and your partner have savings of £16,000 or less, unless you are on guarantee credit of pension credit (PC), in which case your capital is not taken into account; and your income is sufficiently low.


Who cannot claim housing benefit

Some groups of people are excluded from HB – eg, most (but not all) full-time students, most people who live in care homes, and people whose agreement to pay rent is not on a commercial basis or whose liability to pay rent has been created to take advantage of the HB scheme. For more information, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook. Most 16/17-year-old care leavers are excluded (see Chapter 10).


Amount of benefit

The amount of HB you get depends on your income compared with the amount the law says you need to live on. Also, there are limits set on how much rent HB will cover. This section just gives an outline of how HB is calculated, so you can see how a change in your circumstances or in your income might affect your entitlement.


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