What is the NHS Healthy Start Scheme?
If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 years old, you may be eligible for the NHS Healthy Start scheme.
If you are on certain government support – or if you’re under 18 years old and pregnant – you can get help towards your weekly shop when buying milk and some healthy foods. You would also be entitled to free Healthy Start vitamins.
If you are eligible, you will receive a pre-paid Healthy Start card, which will be topped up every 4 weeks with the following:
- £4.25 for each week of pregnancy from 10 weeks onwards and for each child aged between 1 and 4 years old
- £8.50 per week for each child aged under 1 years old
You can use your card at any shop that sells healthy food and milk, and that accepts Mastercards. This includes supermarkets, your local shop, pharmacies, markets, petrol stations, Community Food Spaces and the Queen of Greens mobile greengrocer.
You can use the card 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
You can also use your card to collect:
- Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Vitamin drops for babies and young children – these are suitable from birth to 4 years old
How to apply:
Visit https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/how-to-apply/ for a full list of eligibility criteria. To apply for Health Start, you need the following information:
- Date of birth
- National insurance number
- Your baby’s due date (if you are pregnant)
- Benefit award letter (if you’re over 18 years old) – make sure you enter the exact details shown on this
Make sure that your details are up to date with HMRC or DWP; you may wish to contact them to check or update your details before you apply.
If you are not a British citizen but your child is:
The Department of Health and Social Care have temporarily extended the NHS Healthy Start scheme to British children aged under 4 years old when their parent/guardian meets the following criteria:
- Have at least 1 British child under 4 years old – check if your child is automatically a British citizen if you are not sure
- Family earns £408 or less per month after tax
- Cannot claim ‘public funds’ (for example, benefits) either because of an immigration status or because an immigration status is not held
To apply for Healthy Start, ask for an application form via email. People who can demonstrate they meet all of these criteria can apply by emailing: [email protected]. Only use this email address, however, if you think you cannot claim public funds because of your immigration status.
Please note that not all children born in the UK are automatically British. People can check their British citizenship here.