Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

How to apply


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, your partner or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less 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

If you get a qualifying benefit and are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have parental responsibility for at least one child under 4 years old

You can apply online. To apply, you will need your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • baby’s due date (if you’re pregnant)
  • benefit award letter if you’re over 18 (you must enter the same information that’s on this letter)

If you’re currently receiving paper vouchers for Healthy Start, these will stop once you complete the online application. You can still use your Healthy Start vouchers until their expiry date. You can find the expiry date printed on your vouchers.

Information: If you live in Scotland

You cannot get Healthy Start. You can get help from Best Start Foods (opens in a new tab) instead.

Check if you’re eligible

You can check if you’re eligible by applying now.

Use the check what help you could get to pay for NHS costs online service (opens in a new tab) to see if you’re eligible for other help with NHS costs.

Temporary extension to Healthy Start eligibility

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has agreed to temporarily extend the Healthy Start scheme for people who meet all of the following criteria:

  • You have parental responsibility for at least one child who is less than 4 years old.
  • Your family’s take-home pay is less than £408 per month.
  • You are excluded from claiming public funds because of your current (or lack of) immigration status.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for the temporary extension, email us at to request an application form. This email address is only for those who meet the temporary extension criteria.

A child with knife and fork in hand about to eat a plate of vegetables

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions that people may have about the Healthy Start scheme

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