Changes to the Healthy Start scheme – vouchers to be replaced by prepaid card

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start Card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops (similar to a pre-paid debit card). The card is topped up every four weeks.

Note, the Healthy Start Scheme is currently moving from a paper voucher system to a card based system that needs to be activated before use.  If you are currently receiving paper vouchers, you must now reapply online.

You can still use your paper vouchers until their expiry date. You can find the expiry date printed on your vouchers.

Who is eligible?

You’ll qualify for the Healthy Start Scheme if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have at least one child that’s under 4.

In addition, you must be receiving one or more of the following:

  • Child Tax Credit (if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment).

You will also be eligible for Healthy Start if:

  • You’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
  • You claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant
  • You, your partner or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less per week.

How much will you get?

You’ll get money added onto your card every 4 weeks to spend on certain food and milk. You’ll get:

  • £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the 10th week
  • £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1
  • £4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4

You can also use your card to get free vitamin supplements. These are tablets for women and drops for children.

Your money will stop when your child is age four, or if you no longer receive benefits.

How to apply

You can apply or reapply online at

To apply, you will need your:

  • name
  • address
  • 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).

You can only apply for Healthy Start if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, if you live in Scotland you can apply for Best Start Foods  instead.

More information

If you would like further advice on this or other benefits advice, contact our Family Benefits Advice Service on 028 9267 8200 or email