For Health Professionals

Healthy Start is a a UK-wide government scheme to improve the health of low-income pregnant women and families on benefits and tax credits.

Women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and families with children under four years old qualify for Healthy Start if the family is getting:

  • Income Support, or
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
  • Child Tax Credit (with a family income of £16,190 or less per year)
  • Universal Credit (with a family take home pay of £408 or less per month) 

Women also qualify during the whole of their pregnancy if they are under 18 when they apply, even if they don’t get any of the above benefits or tax credits. To continue getting support from the scheme for their babies, they must meet the same qualifying criteria as other Healthy Start families. It is therefore important that pregnant women under 18 years old tick any qualifying benefits or tax credits they or their family are getting when they first apply, or contact the Healthy Start Issuing Unit to let them know if they start claiming any later in their pregnancy. They must also claim Child Tax Credit as soon as they can after their baby is born.

What do Healthy Start beneficiaries get?

  • Pregnant women get one Healthy Start voucher a week worth £3.10
  • Babies under the age of one get two vouchers a week worth a total of £6.20
  • Children aged over one and under four get one voucher a week worth £3.10.

Vouchers are posted out every four weeks. They can be spent on milk, plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables (fruit and vegetables with nothing added), or infant formula milk in a wide variety of local shops and supermarkets and with milkmen that have registered to take part in the scheme.

Healthy Start vitamins

Every eight weeks, beneficiaries also get green vitamin coupons with their vouchers, which they can swap for Healthy Start vitamins in their local area. The coupons are either for Healthy Start women’s tablets or Healthy Start children’s drops.

Healthy Start vitamin distribution arrangements are the responsibility of the commissioning organisation for 0-5 services in the local area. Usually this sits within the Public Health Department at the Local Authority.

How the ordering happens is a local decision and practice varies between Local Authorities. In many areas, one person is responsible for centrally ordering stock and ensuring they are distributed. In some, however, vitamins are ordered by a number of locations.

Both the women’s and children’s vitamins can be ordered through NHS Supply Chain via the website www.supplychain.nhs.uk

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