Evaluation of the Healthy Start voucher scheme
Published: 15 November 2023
MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit researchers have published a paper and launched a podcast evaluating the Healthy Start voucher scheme
Researchers from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit led an evaluation of the Healthy Start voucher scheme.
The Healthy Start voucher is a means-tested scheme that provides vouchers worth £3.10 per week to spend on liquid milk, formula milk, fruit and vegetables.
The study found that there was no effect of Healthy Start vouchers on taking vitamins before or during pregnancy and there was inconclusive evidence of the effect of Healthy Start vouchers on breastfeeding, indicating that use of the vouchers does not discourage breastfeeding in women with low incomes.
Mothers valued the vouchers and understood the aims of the policy, but vouchers were not mentioned in decision-making around breastfeeding.
The null effect of Healthy Start vouchers on the primary outcomes may be due to the value of the vouchers being insufficient to change the broader lives of low-income women to offer a healthy diet.
In the latest 15 Minutes on Health Inequalities podcast Anna Pearce and Lia Demou speak to Ruth Dundas about the evaluation. 15 Minutes on Health Inequalities is available on all major podcast platforms.
First published: 15 November 2023