NHS Healthy Start: uptake data released

The latest uptake data for the NHS Healthy Start scheme has been released.

National uptake is currently 62.7%, which is an increase compared to uptake for the previous paper voucher scheme.1

More families are now eligible for the scheme than before, and the number of beneficiaries on the scheme has increased by more than 20,000 since August 2021.

Since the digital scheme went live in September 2021, there have been more than 478,000 successful applications, and more than £92m has been spent using the prepaid cards.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which delivers the scheme on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), is encouraging people who think they may be eligible for the scheme to visit the website and apply online.

Brendan Brown, chief operating officer at the NHSBSA, said: “We are committed to increasing uptake of the NHS Healthy Start scheme to ensure as many children as possible have a healthy start in life, and that being in a lower income family is not a barrier to this. We’re pleased to see the number of people accessing the scheme has increased in the year since it went digital, and we want to see this number continue to rise.

“Anyone who believes they may be eligible for the scheme should go to the website where they can find out more about the scheme and apply instantly.”

NHS Healthy Start helps young families and those who are pregnant and on low incomes to access healthy food, milk and vitamins.

You may be eligible for the scheme if you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under four years old and receive certain income related benefits.

If you are under 18 and more than 10 weeks pregnant, you are entitled to join the scheme, even if you don’t receive any benefits.

Those on the scheme receive a prepaid card, which they can use to buy fruit, vegetables, pulses, cow’s milk, infant formula and collect free Healthy Start vitamins. The card is topped up every four weeks with payments.

Families on the scheme receive:

  • £4.25 per week for each child between one and four years old
  • £4.25 per week for each week of a pregnancy (from the 10th week of pregnancy)
  • £8.50 per week for each child aged up to one year old

For more information about NHS Healthy Start and to apply online visit: www.healthystart.nhs.uk

A breakdown of the data by local authority is available at www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthcare-professionals/

Contact Information

Katy Edgar

Senior Media and Campaigns Officer

NHS Business Services Authority


Notes to editors

1. Uptake for the previous Healthy Start paper voucher scheme was 59.9% in August 2021. This is the last month that data exists for the paper voucher scheme only. Data from September 2021 – March 2022 includes all the beneficiaries on the Healthy Start paper voucher scheme, those who had transitioned from the paper voucher scheme to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme, and those who had newly joined the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme.

The September 2021 – March 2022 figures also include people who received vouchers but did not redeem them and so were not active on the scheme. It also includes those who did not transition across to the digital scheme, either because they were no longer eligible or did not apply following the invites sent. More than 500,000 invites were sent to people on the paper voucher scheme, including leaflets and letters to households, emails and text messages to encourage them to apply to the new digital scheme if they were still eligible. Those who continued not to apply received up to seven direct communications. A national communications campaign was also delivered to raise awareness of the scheme.

2. The digital NHS Healthy Start scheme began to accept some applications from September 2021 but the scheme was officially live from November 2021.

3. People may be eligible for NHS Healthy Start if they are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four and are receiving any of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit (if the 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 (if the family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment

They may also be eligible for NHS Healthy Start if:

  • they’re under 18 and pregnant, even if they are not claiming any benefits
  • they claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant
  • they or their partner get Working Tax Credit run-on only. (Working Tax Credit run-on is the Working Tax Credit they receive in the four weeks immediately after they have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week)