Salford Citizens Advice.

The Healthy Start Scheme:

Get help to buy food and milk: (The Healthy Start scheme)

What is Healthy Start?

If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 4 you can get free vouchers or payments every 4 weeks to spend on:

  • cow’s milk
  • fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula milk
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins.

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, you could get help to buy some basic foods and milk.

What you’ll get:

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

Your money will stop after your child’s 4th birthday, or if you no longer receive benefits.

You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins.

What you can buy:

You’re only allowed to buy certain types of milk, infant formula, fruit, and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables, these can be:

  • fresh or frozen or tinned
  • fresh, dried, or tinned pulses
  • whole or chopped
  • packaged or loose
  • fruit in fruit juice, or fruit or vegetables in water

(They cannot: have added ingredients like fat (oil), salt, sugar, or flavourings, such as tinned tomatoes and herbs, kidney beans in chilli sauce, chips, or onion rings, juiced or pre-cooked, fruits in syrup, be smoothies.)

Plain cow’s milk:

This need to be plain cow’s milk, which is pasteurised, sterilised, long-life, or ultra-heat treated (UHT).

It cannot be flavoured, coloured, evaporated, condensed, plant-based milk, powdered (unless it’s stage one infant formula).

Infant formula:

This must be stage one only (first infant formula), made from cow’s milk, nutritionally complete. Look for ‘complete nutrition’, ‘from birth’, ‘from birth to 6 months’, or ‘from birth to 12 months’ on the label.

It cannot be follow-on formula or milk (‘from 6 months’, or ‘from 6 to 12 months.

Get free Healthy Start vitamins:

These are tablets for women and drops for children.

They do not contain milk, egg, gluten, soya, or peanut residues. They’re suitable for vegetarians and halal diets. They’re not suitable for vegans.

You can find out more about the vitamins you and your baby need and why at Start4Life.

You can find out where to collect your vitamins:

  • on the NHS Choices website (opens in a new tab) if you live in England or ask your midwife or health visitor.
  • These can be taken from birth if your child is having less than 500ml (about 1 pint) of infant formula a day.

If they’re having more than this, they do not need to take them. This is because vitamins have already been added to formula.

You or your children should not take more than the recommended amount.


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 any of the following:

  • Child Tax Credit (only 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 or your partner get Working Tax Credit run-on only. (Working Tax Credit run-on is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more 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 award notice.

How to apply:

You can apply for Healthy Start vouchers using a paper form.

To apply for Healthy Start vouchers you should:

Download the Healthy Start application form from:

Print out the form.

Complete the form.

Post the form to Healthy Start Team at:


Healthy Start Issuing Unit

PO Box 1067


WA55 1EG

You can also call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 and ask them to send one to you by post.

You can also ask a midwife or health visitor for an application form.

Help is available from Citizens Advice Salford by calling 0808 27 87 802, or to call into your local bureau just go to for more information.


Tom Togher

April 2021.