About The Healthy Start Scheme:
- Healthy Start is a national scheme that provides help for eligible families and those who are pregnant to buy healthy food and milk.
- Healthy Start includes a pre-paid card which is allocated £4.25 per week (£8.50 during the first year of a child’s life) to be spent on milk, fruit, vegetables and infant formula. Access to free Healthy Start vitamins are also included.
- If a participant remains eligible from 10 weeks pregnant until their child is aged 4, £1,200 could be accessed overall via the scheme. However, since the transition to a digitalised scheme, uptake has reduced to just 65% across Liverpool with about £758,521.24 going unclaimed in 2021.
- Increasing awareness and uptake of the Healthy Start Scheme across Liverpool is crucial as it could make a significant difference to some of Liverpool’s lowest income households by improving both the quality and quantity of good food their household consumes, which is especially important during pregnancy and the early years of a child’s development.
- The Healthy Start card can be used in any shop that sells healthy food and milk, and which accepts Mastercard. This includes supermarkets, your local shop, pharmacies, markets, petrol stations, majority of Community Food Spaces and the Queen of Greens mobile greengrocer.
What is Healthy Start?
If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 years old, you may be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme. If you are on certain government support – or if you are under 18 years old and pregnant – you can get help towards your weekly shop when buying milk and some healthy foods. Free Healthy Start vitamins are also included.
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 year 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 when breastfeeding
- Vitamin drops for babies and young children – these are suitable from birth up to a child turning 4 years old
How to apply:
Click here for a full list of eligibility criteria. In order 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)
- Your benefit award letter if you are over 18 years old – make sure you enter the exact details shown on your benefit award letter
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 four whose 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 a lack of immigration status
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 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.
Healthy Start Training Video
Our training presentation is led by Dr Naomi Maynard and Annette James. It introduces people to the Healthy Start scheme, explaining who is eligible and how people can be supported to apply.
The video also outlines what it means to be a Community Healthy Start Champion.
Interested in becoming a Community Healthy Start Champion? Please keep up to date with our events page to see when our next training session is.
A Healthy Start For Liverpool Report 2022
Last year, Feeding Liverpool led on an action plan, which detailed local barriers to the Healthy Start Scheme and proposed solutions with the aim of increasing uptake for it across the city.
From April 2022 to August 2022, Feeding Liverpool- partnering with Rachel Flood Associates Ltd – worked with pregnant women, families, Children’s Centre staff, Public Health and Health Visitors in order to review the Healthy Start Scheme in Liverpool and develop a series of recommendations about how, as an alliance, we could improve awareness and uptake of the scheme.
View the report here.
Support For Community Food Spaces
Further support is available specifically for Community Food Spaces:
- Sum Up Machines
Feeding Britain have offered to pay for any community food space who do not already have a sum up machine to ensure that every one accepts Healthy Start cards. Get in touch with Naomi if you need help with this.
- Accepting Payments
Your Local Pantry have agreed a 50% split in their membership fees between Healthy Start cards and their regular cash/card payments. Other community food spaces need to think through the practicalities of how accepting card payments can work within their model.