Monday, 6 April 2009

Good news for pregnant women

Today marks the introduction of the new health in pregnancy grant. This is a new universal benefit to support pregnant women, with a £190 grant available for women after the 25th week of pregnancy. 630,000 women a year will be eligible for this. (Should I declare a small interest since Mrs K is currently pregnant?).

This was introduced following evidence put forward by the Fabian Society Life Chances Commission and in our follow-up report Born Unequal by Louise Bamfield, and we worked with the premature baby charity Bliss and the Barrow Cadbury Trust to raise these issues.

The Fabian reports presented detailed evidence on the causes and consequences of low birth-weight, showing that a range of specific interventions to reduce the likelihood of babies being born at under five and a half pounds in weight, which is strongly associated with a range of health complications and developmental problems in infancy, childhood and in later life. Helen Goodman MP offered an overview of the evidence speaking at one of our Fabian seminars on these issues.

And the stark class divide in infant mortality rates. The Fabian Commission reported that, in 2002, infant mortality was four deaths per 1000 live births in social class I (managerial and professional), 5.4 in social class III (manual), 6.2 in social class IV and 8.1 in social class V. Stark inequalities in death chances must be an important area of concern for anybody interested in life chances or equal opportunity.

The Fabian report set out a wide range of evidence and proposals, several of which have influenced the government's health inequalities strategy. These included access to maternity care services, preventive strategies including an expanded role for school nurses, and evidence from case studies on how to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancies and reduce the risks of low birth-weight babies for older mothers, and to reduce smoking in pregnancy.

It would be a lazy caricature to suggest that either our recommendations or the governments agenda simply involves throwing money at the problem. But we did find a strong case that increased financial support would help with nutrition in pregnancy. There have been good academic studies debunking the stereotype that poorer parents will waste extra money on booze and fags.

So three cheers for this advance for Fabian gradualism - though we are very happy to defend the idea of extra support in pregnancy against the anti-state, anti-spending brigage too.


Newmania said...

This money must be removed from people who have worked for it probably as a tax on employment and aspiration. Such people may will probably not have taken irresponsible decisions to have children they are ill equipped financially and therefore in all likelihood, other ways, to look after .
This is may be a worthy charity such things are endless .I `m sure we would all like to see the end of want and suffering in our childish dreams but to remove such amounts from hardworking families under threat of imprisonment is an arrogant and immoral grab for power . Your feeble defence of the imposition of loathed taxes on the broad grounds that you can vote for another government will not suffice. This is socially disruptive measure aimed at encouraging dependence and universal only so as to confuse opposition to it by churning tax into public sector bureaucrat hands . You may think your true goal is hidden but it is not . You want to replace the family with the state and this has no support in this country .
As we head towards rapidly escalating unemployment the creation of a dependent population both of sink estate baby mothers and their parasite public sector minders is draggig the country down . The chief effect of this will be to accentuate the level of unemployment we have to endure when the inevitable days arrives when printing money has to stop. This will in small way contribute to that misery including the misery of children.
Good luck with your excepted arrival , I have three . If I had thought that I might be so hard up that I could not find £190 for basic care I would not have and if I was I would have found a way.

In your estimation I am clearly an unusula man. Not in my experience.

Calix said...

Very good news - I hope the Government and press highlight this so there is wide take-up, and expalin what it is for so that people like Newmania (an odd name)above can understand.

I'm not quite sure how this small one-off grant could possibly lead to unemployment and misery, but perhaps I'm missing something and it really is part of an evil conspiracy...

Sunder Katwala said...


Thanks for your comments. Welcome to Next Left. No doubt you will serve as a regular reminder that not everybody agrees with us, while perhaps we will serve as a reminder that not everybody agrees with you. This is one of the things that I like about democracy.

I have no desire whatsoever to replace the family with the state. That would be profoundly bad for children's life chances, which is what I care about.

I do not think that many taxpayers will begrudge the £190 to all pregnant women, but there is nothing to stop the Taxpayers Alliance or some other campaigning group from launching a campaign to repeal it, just as we advocated its introduction.