By Arun Sudhaman

LONDON: A £1 million campaign to promote milk consumption among school children has been shelved at the last minute because of the UK Government’s well-publicised spending cuts.

The initiative aimed to inform and educate primary and secondary school children about the health benefits of milk and milk products. The campaign was overseen by the UK’s Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (ADHB), under which sits the DairyCo division.

Agencies on the AHDB’s consumer and education rosters, revealed last month by the Holmes Report, were asked to pitch for the business. However, the tender was shelved just days before presentations were due.

“The campaign was cancelled as a result of the current fiscal environment and the Government’s freeze on advertising and marketing spend, which is one part of the now well-publicised cuts in public spending,” said AHDB deputy CEO Richard Lowe.

While most AHDB campaigns are funded through industry levies, it is understood that the budget for this particular programme was being drawn from public sector bodies – including DEFRA, the Department of Health and the DCSF.

“We have no expectation that future campaigns funded by levy money will be affected,” added Lowe.

When asked whether he was concerned that Government spending cuts were affecting campaigns that could improve children’s health, Lowe said “this is a matter for Government to comment on rather than the AHDB.”

An agency source involved in the review said the decision was “really regrettable but consistent with what the Government has been saying.”

The UK Government has begun implementing plans to slash public spending, including health-related campaigns that are not considered immediate problems. New Prime Minister David Cameron is understood to be opposed to “nanny state campaigns” and instead favours “nudge theory”, an economic approach that attempts to change behaviour through peer pressure.