Got a Healthy Start card and shop at Sainsbury's? You can get a £2 a week top-up coupon - here's how
Over half a million low income families who use an 'NHS Healthy Start' prepaid card will receive a weekly £2 top-up coupon to spend on fruit and veg if they use their card at a Sainsbury's checkout from 12 October until 11 April 2023.
Update: 29 November 2022: Sainsbury’s has extended its £2 top-up coupon scheme to shoppers in Wales and Northern Ireland. This means an additional 47,000 people will automatically receive a £2 printed coupon each week they shop at Sainsbury’s between now and 11 April 2023.
Scotland has a number of alternative schemes, including the 'Best Start Grant’ and ‘Best Start Foods’, which help eligible families buy healthy foods, such as milk and fruit. Sainsbury's told us it currently only offers the top-up coupon through the NHS Healthy Start scheme - which only exists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - but is looking at how it can offer similar support in Scotland.
We're checking when the scheme will be rolled out to Wales and Northern Ireland.
The supermarket giant is reintroducing its £2 a week top-up coupons for six months to help shoppers during the cost of living crisis. Sainsbury's had previously offered the extra support twice throughout 2021 to help struggling families in receipt of Healthy Start vouchers.
The scheme gives monetary support to families and pregnant women on a low income with at least one child under the age of four, to buy milk, fruit, vegetables, instant formula, tinned pulses and some multivitamins.
Of course, just because Sainsbury's is giving Healthy Start users around £50 extra to spend on their groceries over a six-month period, it doesn't mean it's the cheapest supermarket to begin with, so check prices elsewhere first. See our Supermarket shopping tips guide for more help cutting costs.
We've asked Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, and Tesco if they plan to do the same, or similar, for their Healthy Start shoppers and we'll update this story when we know more.
Shop at Sainsbury's? Here's how to get the Healthy Start top-up
You won't need to ask for the coupon, as it will be automatically printed out when you checkout using your Healthy Start card in a Sainsbury's superstore.
The vouchers will then be valid to spend in both Sainsbury's superstores and smaller convenience stores on any fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetable items. You'll have up to three weeks to redeem your coupon once it has been issued.
Apply for an NHS Healthy Start card if you're eligible
Under the new prepaid Healthy Start card scheme, which replaced the paper voucher scheme earlier this year, eligible families and pregnant women on a low income can get £4.25 a week, or £8.50 a week for a family with a child under 12 months old, automatically uploaded onto a prepaid card.
The money stays on the card for 16 weeks, with any unused cash returning to Healthy Start. You can use the card in most shops that accept Mastercard - including supermarkets, convenience stores, markets and newsagents. You can only use the card in-store though - not online.