Healthy Start is part of the government's plan to improve the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and children born into low-income families on benefits and tax credit.
The NHS scheme is now digital and offers a prepaid card (instead of paper vouchers).
If you are already signed up to Healthy Start on the paper voucher scheme, you must apply for the new digital scheme. If you do not, you will stop receiving payments.
To apply for the prepaid card, wait for a letter to be sent to you in the post - this will have the instructions and steps that you need to follow to apply. Alternatively, you can go direct to the Healthy Start website and follow the steps for applying.
If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk if you're on certain benefits.
What the scheme gives you
If you're eligible, you will be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it, which you can use in some UK shops.
The benefit is added onto this card every 4 weeks and payments are as follows:
- £4.25 per week for pregnant women (from 10th week of pregnancy)
- £8.50 per week for babies from birth to 1-year-old
- £4.25 per week for children between 1 and 4-years-old.
You can use your 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 free Healthy Start vitamins from Hillingdon's children's centres and family hubs. These come as NHS Healthy Start tablets for adults and drops for children who are less than 4-years-old.
Please note: Applying for the Healthy Start Scheme does not affect any benefits you may be receiving.
To apply, you'll need your:
- date of birth
- National Insurance number
- baby's due date (if you're pregnant)
- benefit award letter if you're over 18 (you must enter the same information that's on this letter)
Following a successful online application, the Healthy Start team will send you a prepaid card by post.
To use your card, you will need to activate it. You can do this by calling 0300 330 7010. Make sure you have your card nearby, as well as your client ID (located at the top of the letter that comes with the card) and your date of birth.
When you receive the card, it will come with the first month's pay already loaded on it. Your prepaid card will be topped up with money once per month.
You can use your card at shops where a card reading machine is available.
You can check your card's balance at any cash point - you will need to know your pin number to do this.