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Healthy Start is a government scheme that provides free vitamin supplements and vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula to certain pregnant women and children.

Note: this leaflet gives a brief summary of the Healthy Start scheme and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations, nor is it a full statement of the law. Sources of more detailed information are given at the end.

People who are eligible include the following:

  • If you are pregnant, or have at least one child under 4 years old, and you or your family are receiving one of the following:
    • Income Support.
    • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance.
    • Child Tax Credit (with a family income below £16,190).
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
    • Working Tax Credit (only if receiving the four-week 'run on' payment).
  • If you are pregnant and are under 18 years old.

If you are accepted on to the scheme you will have vouchers sent to you in the post every four weeks. Each voucher is worth £3.10 (April 2018 rate). Pregnant women and children aged 1 to 4 years will receive one voucher for each week. Babies and infants up to 1 year old will have two vouchers for each week. You will also receive advice about healthy eating, breastfeeding, infant feeding, and how to use the vouchers.

Many well-known shops and supermarkets take part in the scheme. They exchange the vouchers for:

  • Fresh cow's milk.
  • Plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • Infant formula milk suitable from birth.

Many shops taking part in the scheme have a Healthy Start sticker in the window. You should use the full value of the vouchers, as you cannot have change from them.

In addition, you can have free vitamin supplements. Your midwife or health visitor will let you know how these are provided in your local area.

You need to fill out and send off an application leaflet. You can obtain these:

  • From your midwife or health visitor.
  • From your doctor's surgery.
  • By ringing the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823.

Once you have filled in the form, you need your midwife or health visitor to sign the form to confirm that you are pregnant and/or have children under the age of 4. Then send the form to the address provided.

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Further reading and references