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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Passported benefits - Healthy Start vouchers: Healthy Start vouchers

Background

Healthy Start vouchers criteria

A family or person is entitled to apply for Healthy Start vouchers where they satisfy one of the following three criteria

Criteria 1

  • the family is in receipt of Income Support (IS), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA(IB)) or income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA(IR))

and

  • the family is in receipt of Child Tax Credit (CTC) only

and

  • the family has one child or more aged under 4

Criteria 2

  • the family is in receipt of CTC only

and

  • the family’s income is below the earnings threshold

and

  • the family has one child or more aged under 4

Note: Each tax year the earnings threshold may change. The details of the earnings threshold for the recent tax years are

2003-2004 - £13,230

2004-2005 - £13,480

2005-2006 - £13,910

2006-2007 - £14,155

2007-2008 - £14,495

2008-2009 - £15,575

2009-2010 - £16,040

2010-2011 - £16,190

2011-2012 - £16,190

2012-2013 - £16,190

Note: There will not be entitlement to Healthy Start vouchers if the customer is in receipt of Working Tax Credit (WTC) unless the person is receiving it in the four weeks immediately after they stopped working 16 or more hours weekly or there are no children aged under 4 in the family.

Criteria 3

  • pregnant women under 18 years of age, who are not in receipt of tax credits or any other benefits.

How Healthy Start vouchers are issued

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) provides the Healthy Start Issuing Unit (HSIU) with details of all tax credits families who may be eligible for Healthy Start vouchers. However, all those who are entitled to apply for Healthy Start vouchers must complete application form (HS01). This form is available from some GP surgeries or by calling 0845 607 6823. The details that are provided to the HSIU are

  • Healthy Start Status (eligible, no longer eligible or household details have changed)
  • customer’s NINO
  • customer’s title
  • customer’s forename and surname
  • customer’s address
  • customer’s RLS
  • child’s details under 4 years (surname, forenames, date of birth, responsibility start date and current entitlement start date).

This information is passed to the HSIU every two weeks.

Note: The HSIU does not have any facility to amend or change a customer’s details. The HSIU does not hold, or have access to, any other customer details.

There could be up to a five-week delay, from the date a customer applies for Healthy Start vouchers, before they receive their first issue of them from the HSIU. This is due to the two-weekly data extract. The HSIU have to verify the customer’s eligibility using the information from the data extract before the vouchers can be issued. Entitlement to Healthy Start vouchers will be backdated where necessary.

Once the data is passed to the HSIU, it is their responsibility to verify any applications for Healthy Start vouchers and issue them where appropriate.

Healthy Start vouchers will be issued to the customer who has been nominated to receive CTC (the main carer).

Where a customer contacts the HSIU or the Department of Health regarding their entitlement to Healthy Start vouchers or to report a change of circumstances, the customer will be told to contact HMRC.

The role of HMRC

HMRC identifies those families who satisfy the Healthy Start vouchers criteria and passes that information every two weeks to the HSIU. Families must apply for Healthy Start vouchers by completing application form HS01. This form is available from some GP surgeries or by calling 0845 607 6823.

HMRC should only refer customers back to the Healthy Start Helpline for Healthy Start vouchers HSIU in the following circumstances

  • the operator has checked with the customer that all their personal details and circumstances that are recorded on the tax credits computer are correct

and

  • the operator has checked and established that eligibility for Healthy Start vouchers exists (the customer satisfies one of the three Healthy Start vouchers criteria)

and

  • the operator has checked that the customer has actually applied for Healthy Start vouchers, and five weeks have passed since the application was made.

Only then must you refer the customer to the Healthy Start helpline for Healthy Start vouchers.

Note: If all the steps have not been followed and it is fewer than five weeks since the customer applied for Healthy Start vouchers, there is nothing the HSIU or Department of Health can do for the customer and the customer will be directed back to HMRC.

The role of the Department of Health and the Healthy Start Issuing Unit

The HSIU is contracted to the Department of Health (DoH) and it is their responsibility to issue Healthy Start vouchers to tax credits customers who have applied for them. These customers will have satisfied one of the three Healthy Start vouchers criteria.

Note: It is not the responsibility of the DoH or HSIU to answer queries about whether customers satisfy the Healthy Start vouchers criteria. Customers phoning the Healthy Start Helpline for Healthy Start vouchers will be told whether Healthy Start vouchers have been issued and will be given advice on how to use their vouchers.

It is the responsibility of HMRC to answer queries about whether customers satisfy the criteria and the tax credits data is correct and reflects the customer’s current circumstances.

The DoH and HSIU do not have access to the tax credits computer and they are not able to amend or change any data HMRC has passed to them.

The DoH and HSIU can only confirm whether Healthy Start vouchers have been issued to a customer and provide them with information on how to use the vouchers.

If the DoH or HSIU do not have any record of the customer on their database, then either

  • the details on the tax credits computer for the customer are incorrect and they do not satisfy the Healthy Start vouchers criteria

or

  • fewer than five weeks have passed since the customer applied for Healthy Start vouchers.

Note: On a claim where there is a nil award, an ‘F-IRA’ error has occurred, or the customer is being paid manually, HSIU will not be able to verify the customer’s eligibility and can not issue any Healthy Start vouchers. If an application for Healthy Start vouchers has been made, entitlement where applicable, will be backdated once the error has been corrected.

Checklist

Before you follow this guidance, make sure

  • you follow the guidance in TCM0138020 
  • you have the correct user roles to follow this guidance. Use the B&C Roles and Access Catalogue. You can find this by going to the Benefits & Credits homepage, selecting ‘R’ on the B&C A-Z index, selecting ‘Roles and Access Process’, selecting ‘Roles & Access Catalogue’ from the Related links menu
  • you are in the correct MU. Use TCM0322460 for the correct MU number.

Guidance

Step 1

If the customer is reporting one of the following in relation to Healthy Start vouchers

  • a change of address
  • a name change
  • a death in the family
  • action the request. Follow the relevant Changes guidance in TCM0030000.

If the customer has not received their Healthy Start vouchers, go to . 

If the customer is asking if their entitlement to tax credits means they are eligible to apply for Healthy Start vouchers, go to .

If the customer wants general advice about Healthy Start vouchers, go to .

If the customer wants information on Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women, go to .

Note: Pregnant women under 18 years of age, who are not in receipt of tax credits or any other benefits are entitled to Healthy Start vouchers.

If you are dealing with RLS correspondence or the addressee has gone away. Follow the guidance in TCM0184200.

Note: There is no indicator on the tax credits computer that will show when the customer’s details have been selected for the extract and passed over to the HSIU. As long as the information held by HMRC is correct and the customer satisfies the criteria for Healthy Start vouchers, the customer’s details will automatically be sent to the HSIU every two weeks. However, the customer must make an application for Healthy Start vouchers before they can be issued.

Step 2

Check if the customer has contacted the Helpline for Healthy Start vouchers.

If the customer has contacted the Helpline but they have no trace of their details on the computer, go to .

If the customer has not contacted the Helpline

  • tell them to phone the Healthy Start helpline on 0845 607 6823

Note: This is a national phone number and includes Northern Ireland.

  • take no further action.

Step 3

Check if the following personal details are correct for the customer (or customers). For how to do this, use TCM1000189 and TCM1000198 

  • name
  • address
  • children’s names and dates of birth
  • whether they are in receipt of IS, JSA or ESA
  • go to .

Step 4

Check the following income and employment details for customer (or customers). For how to do this, use TCM1000249 

  • hours
  • number of jobs
  • earnings
  • benefits in kind
  • self-employed profits
  • Social Security benefits
  • other income.

If the customer’s personal, income or employment details are incorrect or have changed, go to .

If the customer’s personal, income or employment details are correct or have not changed, go to .

Step 5

If the customer’s details need amending. Follow the relevant Changes guidance in TCM0030000, then return to this guidance

Note: Once you have amended or corrected the details, HMRC will notify the HSIU of the correct details on the next automatic transfer of information, only where the customer also satisfies one of the three set criteria.

  • tell the customer they will receive a new award notice
  • go to .

Step 6

Check the customer satisfies the three criteria below

  • check if the family is in receipt of IS income-based JSA or income-related ESA. For how to do this, use TCM1000198 

and

  • check if the family is in receipt of CTC only. For how to do this, use TCM1000052 

and

  • check if the family has one child or more aged under four. For how to do this, use TCM1000249.

If the customer does not satisfy the three criteria above, go to .

If the customer satisfies the three criteria above, they are entitled to Healthy Start vouchers, go to .

Step 7

Check the customer satisfies the three criteria below

  • check if the family is in receipt of CTC only. For how to do this, use TCM1000052 

and

  • check if the family’s income is below the earnings threshold. For how to do this, use TCM1000249 and refer to the table below

and

  • check if the family has one child or more aged under four. For how to do this, use TCM1000249.

Note: If the customer is in receipt of Working Tax Credit, they do not satisfy the criteria for Healthy Start vouchers, unless the person is receiving it in the four weeks immediately after they stopped working 16 hours or more weekly. If the customer is in receipt of CTC only but their income is above the earnings threshold for the tax year, they do not satisfy the criteria for Healthy Start vouchers.

Note: Each tax year the earnings threshold may change. The details for the recent tax years are

2003-2004 - £13,230

2004-2005 - £13,480

2005-2006 - £13,910

2006-2007 - £14,155

2007-2008 - £14,495

2008-2009 - £15,575

2009-2010 - £16,040

2010-2011 - £16,190

2011-2012 - £16,190

2012-2013 - £16,190

If the customer satisfies the three criteria above, they are entitled to Healthy Start vouchers, go to .

If the customer does not satisfy the three criteria above

  • explain why they are not eligible for Healthy Start vouchers
  • take no further action.

Step 8

Check if the customer has applied for Healthy Start vouchers

If they have not applied

  • tell the customer that they must complete an HS01 application form. This form is available from some GP surgeries or by calling 0845 607 6823
  • take no further action.

If they have applied

  • ask the customer the date they applied

Note: There could be up to a five-week delay from the date the customer applied for Healthy Start vouchers before they receive their first voucher. This is due to the two-weekly data extract. The HSIU has to verify the customer’s eligibility using the information from the data extract before the vouchers can be issued. The HSIU will backdate entitlement where necessary.

  • go to .

Step 9

If five weeks have passed since the customer applied for Healthy Start vouchers, go to .

If five weeks have not passed since the customer applied for Healthy Start vouchers

  • tell the customer to wait until the five weeks have passed and to phone back if they have not received their Healthy Start vouchers
  • go to .

Step 10

If the customer is happy to wait

  • take no further action.

If the customer is not happy to wait

  • tell the customer that the HSIU has to verify their entitlement to Healthy Start vouchers and that this can take up to five weeks
  • assure the customer that their vouchers will be backdated to the date they applied for them
  • go to .

Step 11

If the customer is not happy with this

  • tell them that they can write to the HSIU at
    Healthy Start Issuing Unit
    PO Box 9147
    Chelmsford
    CM1 9AA
  • tell the customer they must include

    • the date they applied for the Healthy Start vouchers
    • their NINO
    • their name
    • their address
  • tell them the HSIU will monitor the situation for them
  • take no further action.

Step 12

Only refer customers to the Helpline for Healthy Start vouchers where you have already established

  • at Steps 3 and 4 above that their personal details and circumstances recorded on the tax credits computer are correct

and

  • at Step 6 and 7 that eligibility for Healthy Start vouchers exists

and

  • at Step 8 that they have actually applied for Healthy Start vouchers and that five weeks have passed since they made the application.

If all the criteria above has been satisfied

  • tell the customer to phone the Helpline for Healthy Start vouchers on 0845 607 6823

Note: If all the criteria above has not been satisfied there is nothing the HSIU can do for the customer and the customer will be directed back to HMRC.

If the customer’s personal details and circumstances recorded on the tax credits computer are incorrect, go back to .

If you have established the customer is not eligible for Healthy Start vouchers

  • explain why they are not eligible for Healthy Start vouchers
  • take no further action.

If five weeks have not passed since the customer applied for Healthy Start vouchers

  • tell the customer to wait until the five weeks have passed and to phone back if they have not received their Healthy Start vouchers
  • go to .

Step 13

If the customer wants general advice about the scheme and information on how to use Healthy Start vouchers

  • tell them to phone the Healthy Start helpline on 0845 607 6823

Note: This is a national phone number and includes Northern Ireland.

  • take no further action.

If the customer wishes to return their Healthy Start vouchers

  • tell them to send the vouchers to
    Healthy Start Issuing Unit
    PO Box 9147
    Chelmsford
    CM1 9AA
  • stating the reason they are returning them
  • take no further action.

If the customer is enquiring about Healthy Start vouchers during pregnancy

  • tell them they can get Healthy Start vouchers from the tenth week of pregnancy if one of the following three criteria apply

Criteria 1

* the family is in receipt of IS, income-based JSA or income-related ESA 

and

* the family is in receipt of CTC only 

and

* the family has one child or more aged under four. 

Criteria 2

* the family is in receipt of CTC only 

and

* the family’s income is below the earnings threshold 

and

* the family has one child or more aged under four 

Note: Each tax year the earnings threshold may change. The details of the earnings threshold for the recent tax years are

2003-2004 - £13,230

2004-2005 - £13,480

2005-2006 - £13,910

2006-2007 - £14,155

2007-2008 - £14,495

2008-2009 - £15,575

2009-2010 - £16,040

2010-2011 - £16,190

2011-2012 - £16,190

2012-2013 - £16,190

Note: There will not be any entitlement to Healthy Start vouchers if the customer is in receipt of WTC, unless the person is receiving it in the four weeks immediately after they stopped working 16 hours or more weekly or there are no children aged under four in the family.

Criteria 3

* pregnant women under 18 years of age who are not in receipt of tax credits or any other benefits
  • tell them that they can get an application form HS01 at their doctor’s surgery or they can phone 0845 607 6823 to request one
  • tell them they will need to get the application signed by a health professional (such as a health visitor or doctor)
  • take no further action.