DoH hunts DM agency for Healthy Start scheme

The Government is planning a new direct marketing push to boost its Healthy Start voucher scheme aimed at pregnant women and mothers of young children on means-tested benefits.

The Department of Health wants to boost the number of women using the voucher scheme and reduce misuse of the vouchers
via a direct mail education campaign on the importance of healthy eating in pregnancy and early childhood.

The scheme provides £3.10 worth of vouchers a week which can be redeemed in participating retailers for fruit, vegetables, milk and infant formula milk. They can also be exchanged for vitamins from NHS outlets.

The campaign will most likely focus on monthly voucher mailings but may be broadened to target mothers as they become eligible for the scheme to encourage healthy eating habits from the start.

It follows a review of the impact of the scheme, published in April, which found that although it was close to hitting its take-up target of 80% (78%), some parts of the UK had low engagement.

The DoH is working with the Central Office of Information (COI) to create a shortlist and manage the pitch to find an agency to handle the new drive.

Agencies shortlisted will be selected from the COI’s recently reviewed list of approved and relevant agencies.

Healthy Start was introduced in 2006 to replace the long-standing infant and milk tokens that were developed in the 1940s.