It’s really important for pregnant women and young children to have good nutrition, and the Healthy Start scheme helps low-income families to access healthier foods to support their children to get the best start in life.
Across Bury and Bolton, 3,294 pregnant women and children are entitled to Healthy Start vouchers – only 56% of vouchers have been claimed, leaving 44% still unclaimed! This equates to £10,659 worth of healthy food which is not reaching the people who need it most.
Here at Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton, we understand the importance of these vouchers to the wellbeing and children and families, so we’re here to give you all the information you need.
What are Healthy Start Vouchers?
Healthy Start Vouchers (HSV) are vouchers which eligible people can receive to spend on certain healthy food items at registered retailers. These vouchers are worth £4.25 per week and are received every 4 weeks.
Who is eligible?
Those eligible for the scheme must be at least 10 weeks pregnant, or have a child under the age of 4.
Additionally, you must be receiving any of the following:
- Child Tax Credit (with an income of or less than £16,190)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit (with earnings of £408 or less per month from employment)
You are also eligible for Healthy Start if:
- you’re under 18 and over 10 weeks pregnant – you don’t have to be claiming benefits
- You claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance and are over 10 weeks pregnant
- You or your partner receive Working Tax Credit run-on only
What do they cover?
The vouchers can only be spent on:
- Cow’s milk
- Fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables
- Infant formula milk
- Fresh, dried and tinned pulses
Healthy start vitamins are also available and you will be sent a voucher every 8 weeks which you can swap for vitamins.
You can find more information about what you can buy with your vouchers on the NHS Healthy Start pages.
The vouchers can only be used at registered retailers, so look out for the Healthy Start sticker in the window!
What will you get?
You will get 1 voucher per week if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have a child aged between 1 and 4
You will get 2 vouchers per week if you have a child under 1
How do I apply?
At present you can only apply using a paper form. All you need to do is download the form from the website, print it, fill it in and post it off! Unable to do this at home, we can print the form for you (but won’t be able to complete it).
You can also call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 and request for a form to be sent by post, or ask your GP or midwife for a form.
A new digital scheme is being developed by NHS England which will offer a prepaid card instead of paper vouchers.
If you are in receipt of the paper vouchers, you will be contacted with an invitation to apply to the new, online Healthy Start scheme, with rollout planned for Autumn 2021. It’s important to watch out for this new invitation as paper vouchers will be coming to an end in 2022 so you must reapply to the new scheme if you want to continue receiving your vouchers.
If you need help or advice on Healthy Start vouchers, get in touch with our team today – call us free on 0808 278 7804, visit one of our in-person drop ins or visit cabb.org.uk.