Pregnant woman holding an apple

Healthy Start vouchers go online

The Healthy Start voucher scheme is going online.

Until now, if we qualified we received paper vouchers to spend on certain foods and milk.

Now it’s going digital, with prepaid cards that will be topped up every four weeks with our payments.

What happens now?

If we’re already on the paper voucher scheme we’ll get a letter or a leaflet with a voucher pack to apply for a card.

The paper scheme is coming to an end, so going online is the only way to make sure our payments continue.

If we’re not on the scheme yet but think we’re eligible (read on to see who qualifies), we can apply online.

What is Healthy Start?

It’s a government initiative to help families and mums-to-be with vouchers that they can put towards milk and food. 

To qualify, we have to be at least 10 weeks’ pregnant or have a child under four. We must also receive Child Tax Credit (but we only qualify if our family’s annual income is £16,190 or less), Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit, or Universal Credit (but again we only qualify if our family earns £408 or less per month).

The vouchers are worth £4.25 a week and if we have a child under one we could get two vouchers a week.

They can be used to buy milk, infant formula, fruit and veg, and other nutritious foods like beans and lentils.

(In Scotland it’s different. We apply for help through Best Start Foods for payments through pregnancy up until the time our child is three.)

Why the change?

The NHS, which manages the scheme, says it’ll speed up applications. Also, if we don’t spend all our allowance one week it can be carried over to the next.

We can check our balance to help us manage our budget. And payments go on to the card automatically so we won’t have to wait for our vouchers to arrive.

Image: SHVETS production / Pexels

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