What is it?

The scheme is designed to help families access fruit, vegetables, and milk, worth £220 a year. Families who use NHS Healthy Start can also access free vitamins.

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and in receipt of certain benefits, you could be entitled to a Healthy Start prepaid card worth £4.25 per child per week, to spend on healthy food and milk.

If you are entitled to Healthy Start, you will also get free vitamins designed to help pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children.

Pregnant women and parents of children over one and under four years old can apply online for a new Healthy Start digital prepaid card which will be topped up every 4 weeks. Parents of children under one year old can get £8.50 per week.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women who use NHS Healthy Start can also access the following free vitamins:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Folic Acid

For children up to 4 years:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D


You will quality for the Healthy Start scheme if you are at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have at least one child that’s under 4.

In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:

  • Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s 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 are 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.

To find out if your family earns £408 or less per month from employment whilst claiming Universal Credit, look at your ‘take-home pay for this period’ on your monthly Universal Credit aware notice.

NHS Healthy Start has an eligibility checker: NHS Healthy Start – How to apply

Changes to the NHS Healthy Start Scheme

NHS Healthy Start has gone digital! Previous voucher recipients must re-apply to continue getting help.

Paper vouchers can continue to be used until the expiry date printed on them. Beneficiaries will then be able to apply for the card scheme (if not done already).

What are the benefits of moving to the prepaid card option?
  • A quicker decision on your application.
  • You can use your card anywhere that accepts Mastercard ® and sells the eligible healthy start food items.
  • You’ll be able to keep the change, unlike the voucher scheme where you must spend £4.25 or over in one transaction.
  • You can save your money for more items.
  • The card is discreet.
  • You can check your balance which helps with money management.
  • Your payment will be automatically added to your card.

Where can I use the prepaid card?

You can use your card in most places that sell milk, infant formula, fruit, and vegetables. This includes:

  • Supermarkets
  • Convenience stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Drug stores and pharmacies
  • Markets
  • Dairy product stores
  • News dealers and newsstands
  • Freezer and locker meat provisions (such as butcher shops)
  • Petrol stations

They must display a Mastercard ® logo. The logo is normally shown on the shop door or at the till. Ask an employee inside the shop if they take Mastercard ® if you’re unsure. If you try to spend the money anywhere else the card will be declined.


A full list of FAQs can be viewed here: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/frequently-asked-questions/the-new-healthy-start-scheme/

Where to get Healthy Start information?

  • Healthy Start website: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/
  • Information for professionals:
  • Information for beneficiaries:
      • How to apply (and link to application/eligibility checker)
      • How to use the card
      • How to obtain vitamins
      • FAQ
  • Information for professionals:
      • Toolkit with communications – this must not be changed without seeking permission first
  • Information for retailers:
      • Letters to retailers

What next?

We are trying to increase the uptake of Healthy Start in Hertfordshire – there is currently around £1million going unclaimed in Hertfordshire.

We would also like to ensure that those in most need of HS vitamins are claiming those – but they are still available to anyone in Hertfordshire who would like them.

We need to engage with retailers to make sure they are aware of the changes.

How can you help?