What is the Healthy Start scheme?
The Healthy Start scheme is a national government welfare scheme for families on low income that has run for many years. Pregnant women, or families who have children under four years old, may be entitled to get vouchers or payments every four weeks to spend on:
- cows’ milk
- fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- infant formula milk
- fresh, dried or tinned pulses.
Vouchers are worth £4.25.
Families can also get free Healthy Start vitamins (see below).
Who can claim?
Broadly, you’ll qualify for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re at least ten weeks pregnant or have at least one child under four, and you are receiving certain benefits. You’ll also be eligible of you’re pregnant and under 18, claiming ESA or get Working Tax Credit run-on whilst working 16 hours or less per week.
- There is a temporary addition to the scheme’s eligibility criteria to include British children aged under four whose parent/guardian meet the financial eligibility criteria but are excluded from claiming public funds as a consequence of their immigration status, or their lack of immigration status.
Families can check their eligibility on the Healthy Start website.
How does the scheme work?
By September 2022, the voucher scheme will be fully digital, with families being issued a pre-paid card which can be used in chip and pin machines at participating retailers. The card is automatically topped up every four weeks.
During the transition period (from September 2021), some families will still be issued paper vouchers. Registered Healthy Start providers should accept both methods. Families using paper vouchers will be contacted during the transition period to re-apply online for a card.
Families now apply for the scheme online (previously applications were on a paper form and a healthcare professional was required to countersign some applications).
Healthy Start vitamins
The Bradford District Universal Vitamin Supplementation policy provides free vitamins to:
- all pregnant women giving birth in Bradford
(Healthy Start Maternal vitamin tablets from their Midwife team)
- all infants born in Bradford
(Healthy Start infant vitamin drops for the first six months from their Health Visitor)
If a family has any questions, please ask them to speak with their Midwife or Health Visitor.