Healthy Start are moving from paper vouchers to the Healthy Start card. The last paper vouchers will be sent out on the week starting the 7th March. You can still use any valid vouchers to get free vitamins. There are still over 1600 Lewisham families missing out on these payments for vegetables, fruits, beans/lentils and milk so do apply here is you think you qualify.
What is the Healthy Start Scheme?
You’ll qualify for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have at least one child that’s under 4. In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:
- Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
- Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
You will also be eligible for Healthy Start if:
- you’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
- you claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant
- you, your partner or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less per week
To find out if your family earns £408 or less per month from employment whilst claiming Universal Credit, look at your ‘take-home pay for this period’ on your monthly Universal Credit award notice.
What you’ll get
You’ll get money added onto your card every 4 weeks to spend on certain food and milk.
- £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the 10th week
- £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1
- £4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4
Your money will stop when your child is 4, or if you no longer receive benefits.
If you’re not a British citizen but your child is
You might be able to get Healthy Start vouchers depending on your immigration status.
You can get Healthy Start vouchers if all the following are true:
- you have at least 1 British child under 4 years old – check if your child is automatically a British citizen (opens in a new tab) if you’re not sure
- your family earns £408 or less per month after tax
- you cannot claim ‘public funds’ (opens in a new tab) (for example, benefits) – either because of your immigration status or because you do not have an immigration status
Your biometric residence permit (BRP) or your online immigration status (opens in a new tab) will say if you cannot claim public funds. You might also have a letter from the Home Office about it.
To get Healthy Start vouchers, ask for an application form via email. Only use this email address if you think you cannot claim public funds because of your immigration status.
Why you should get your free Healthy Start vitamins
Young children may not get enough vitamin A and D even if they are eating well. If you are pregnant and breastfeeding you may not get enough vitamin C or D or folic acid. You can use your Healthy Start card to get these important vitamins for free. These come as NHS Healthy Start tablets and drops for children. They do not contain milk, egg, gluten, soya or peanut residues. They’re suitable for vegetarians and halal diets. You can get the vitamin tablets while you’re pregnant and up to your baby’s 1st birthday. They contain:
- folic acid which lowers the chance of babies having spinal problems
- vitamin C which helps the body’s soft tissue
- vitamin D which helps babies’ bones to develop properly
Children can take vitamin drops if they:
- are less than 4 years old
- have less than 500ml (about one pint) of infant formula a day – as formula already has vitamins added to it
Healthy Start vitamins come as an 8-week supply of:
- 56 tablets (a daily dose of 1 tablet)
- 280 drops (a daily dose of 5 drops)
You or your children should not take more than the recommended amount. You can collect your Vitamin D from your local Children & Family Centre.
Frequently Asked Questions
I do not want to buy milk, fruit, or vegetables – can I spend my payment on something else for me or my baby?
If you do not want to buy cow’s milk, fresh, frozen, or tinned fruit and vegetables, you could use your Healthy Start payment to buy infant formula or fresh, dried, or tinned pulses. The Healthy Start card can only be used to buy:
- plain liquid cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
- infant formula milk based on cow’s milk
Can I buy follow on formula with my Healthy Start card?
Healthy Start card cannot be used to buy follow on formula. However, you can use your card to buy infant formula labelled ‘suitable from birth’. Infant formula can be given to babies up to 12 months old. After 12 months, they can have cow’s milk, which you can also buy with your card.
My local shop, supermarket, or pharmacist will not take my Healthy Start food or vitamin vouchers, what should I do?
Some retailers or pharmacists are not registered to accept paper Healthy Start food or vitamin vouchers. However, the new Healthy Start card can be used in any shop that accepts Mastercard®.
Can I use my Healthy Start card for online shopping?
No. However, the Healthy Start card can be used in any shop that sells healthy food and milk and accepts Mastercard®.
Can I use my Healthy Start card to withdraw money from an ATM or request cashback?
No, the card can only be used in store. You cannot purchase more than the balance on your card. You can check your balance at an ATM or by calling us on 0300 330 7010.