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Get help and give your child a healthy start

Get help and give your child a healthy start

09 May 2022
Healthy Start news web.png

Wokingham Borough Council is raising awareness of the Healthy Start scheme, which aims to support eligible low-income families receiving benefits.


The council is joining forces with public health teams from West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council to promote the benefits of the scheme.


Healthy Start provides eligible households with a pre-paid card, which can be used to buy items including cow’s milk, vegetables, fruit, pulses and infant formula milk, as well as free vitamins. You must apply for the card online and this can then be used in stores that display the Mastercard acceptance mark.

As of December, only 53% of eligible families in Wokingham Borough were using the scheme, resulting in at least £1,402.50 of healthy food not reaching those who need it every week (Food Justice Finder, 2022).

Helping the most vulnerable

Dr Ingrid Slade, assistant director of population health, integration and partnerships at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “The Healthy Start scheme supports the most vulnerable families with young children to give these children the best start in life. The pre-paid card will make it easier for those eligible for the scheme to obtain healthy food items to support the growth and development of their children.


“I encourage all those eligible to take advantage of the pre-paid card scheme, to support your food shopping and to take up the offer of essential vitamins for mums and young children.”

What you need to get started


To apply, you will need to provide:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • National insurance number
  • Baby’s due date (if you are pregnant)
  • Benefit award letter (if you are over 18) 

To qualify for the scheme, women need to be at least 10 weeks pregnant, or families need to have at least one child under the age of four. In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:

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

You may also be eligible for NHS Healthy Start if you:

  • Are under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
  • Claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over ten weeks pregnant
  • You or your partner get Working Tax Credit run-on only

If you qualify you will receive the pre-paid card, which will be topped up every four weeks. You will receive £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the tenth week of your pregnancy, £8.50 per week for children from birth to one year and £4.25 a week for children aged one to four.


The scheme previously operated with paper vouchers, but this stopped in March and existing users were contacted and invited to apply for a card.


If you are not a British citizen but your child is, you might be eligible for Healthy Start depending on your immigration status.

More from Wokingham Borough Council 


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