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  1. 1. Who can apply
  2. 2. How to apply

Who can apply

The Healthy Start scheme provides pregnant women, and parents of young children, with financial help to buy healthy food and milk, and free vitamins. The scheme is available in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. People living in Scotland can apply for a Best Start Grant.

A pregnant woman or family will be provided with a Healthy Start card with money added to it every 4 weeks that can be used in certain shops to buy healthy food and milk, including infant formula. They can also use the card to get free Healthy Start vitamins during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and vitamin drops for babies and young children up to 4 years old.

The scheme is available to women who are more than 10 weeks pregnant, and parents with a child under 4, when they (or their partner) are claiming certain benefits. Some families with no recourse to public funds can also access the scheme. The Healthy Start scheme is not a 'public fund' for immigration purposes.

Families receiving benefits

A pregnant woman or parent with a child under 4 may qualify for the Health Start scheme if they (or their partner) are receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (if applying as a pregnant woman)
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (the household's annual income must be £16,190 or less)
  • Universal Credit (the household's monthly earned income from employment is £408 or less )
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit 4 week run-on payment

A pregnant woman with no recourse to public funds may be able to access the scheme if they have a partner who is in receipt of one of these benefits, or they are the dependent child of a person who is receiving one of these benefits. 

Pregnant women under 18

A woman under 18 who is more than 10 weeks pregnant may qualify for the Healthy Start scheme. They do not need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit. 

They will only continue to qualify for Healthy Start after their baby is born if they are receiving a qualifying benefit. 

Families with no recourse to public funds

A parent may be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme in England and Wales if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • They have at least 1 British child under 4 years old
  • They earn £408 or less per month after tax
  • They have no recourse to public funds (such as leave to remain with a 'No Recourse to Public Funds' condition or are without lawful status)