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Committee announces evidence session on the impact of covid-19 on new parents

6 July 2021

On Wednesday 14 July, the Petitions Committee will hear evidence from petition creators and expert witnesses on the impact of covid-19 on new parents.

One year on from the publication of its landmark report, the session will allow the Petitions Committee to assess what progress has been made against the problems identified and recommendations made to the Government in the report.

The session will start at 9.30am, with the following witnesses:

Panel 1

  • Bethany Power, petition signatory
  • Emily Tredget, Co-Founder, Happity

Panel 2

  • Dr Sarah McMullen, Director of Impact and Engagement, NCT
  • Sue Armstrong Brown, Chief Executive, Adoption UK
  • Sally Hogg, Head of Policy and Campaigning, Parent-Infant Foundation

Panel 3

  • Neil Leitch, Chief Executive, Early Years Alliance
  • Joeli Brearley, Founder, Pregnant then Screwed
  • Rosalind Bragg, Director, Maternity Action

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell comments

“It is extremely concerning that a year after the publication of the Committee’s report, there has been little or no progress on the overwhelming majority of our recommendations.

“The Government has offered no help to pregnant women incorrectly placed on unpaid or sick leave by their employers, no ‘catch-up’ funding to help new parents access support services disrupted during the pandemic, and no targeted funding to provide extra mental health support specifically for new parents.

 “The Committee also recommended the introduction of neonatal leave for parents of babies requiring neonatal care and the extension of maternity discrimination protections for six months after a new mother returns to work, but the Employment Bill which we were told would deliver these rights was absent from the Queen’s Speech.

“One year on, the Government has failed to address any of these issues. I look forward to hearing from petitioners and experts on this subject, and the Committee will continue to challenge the Government to bring forward the changes we have recommended”.

Survey

To inform the session, the Committee sought the views of new parents and childcare providers through an online survey of petitioners, and a post on online forum Mumsnet. Key findings from this engagement include:

  • Access to baby and toddler groups, which provide vital support for both parents and children, remains limited even as restrictions ease, with 68% of respondents telling us they ‘strongly disagreed’ with the statement that “I have been able to access baby and toddler groups over the past 12 months”
  • 77% of respondents told us they ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ with the statement that “The cost of childcare has prevented me from getting the kind of childcare I need”
  • 72% of respondents who said they ran or worked for a childcare setting telling us they expected the pandemic to have a ‘major’ or ‘moderate’ effect on their setting’s long-term financial sustainability
  • Read a full summary of what new parents and childcare providers told us

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