Skip to main content

New parents need a dedicated covid-19 recovery strategy, says committee

7 October 2021

The Petitions Committee has launched its report, Impact of covid-19 on new parents: one year on, which calls on the Government to publish a dedicated covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents.

Key recommendations

In light of the pandemic’s ongoing impact on new parents, as set out in the report, and the need for a sustained focus from the Government to support this group, the committee’s new report recommends that the Government should publish a dedicated covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents, bringing together all Government actions to support this group, with a clear delivery plan.

Other key recommendations made in the report include calling on the Government to:

  • Provide additional funding and resources to allow catch-up mental health support for new parents impacted by covid-19 and accelerate planned capacity-building in perinatal mental health services
  • Fund local authorities in order to arrange in-person visits to new parents by the appropriate local authority, voluntary organisation, or health visiting staff by the end of the year
  • Review monitoring and enforcement activity relating to employers’ health and safety obligations to pregnant women
  • Legislate as soon as possible to introduce the planned extension of redundancy protections for new and expectant mothers
  • Commission a review into the funding and affordability of childcare, to consider how to provide greater financial security to the sector following the pandemic and ensure childcare provision meets the needs of new parents seeking to return to work

Chair’s comments

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, said:

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

The Government has offered 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.

It has also failed to deliver the extension of redundancy protections for new parents it promised in its response to our report last year.

Although the Government’s plans for long-term capacity-building in areas such as perinatal mental health and children’s development in the first 1001 days are positive, these do not go far enough to address the immediate needs of new parents or their children.

We have continued to receive petitions highlighting the difficulties new parents, and the services they rely on during the vital early months of their child’s life, have continued to face over the last year. It is clear that the impact of the pandemic is still being felt.

The Government must now reconsider its response and urgently take action to put in place support.

It has been incredibly valuable to hear from petitioners and experts on this subject, and the committee will continue to challenge the Government to bring forward the changes we have concluded need to be made.”


This new report follows the committee’s inquiry last year into the impact of covid-19 on new parents after an e-petition—‘Extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19’—received 238,884 signatures.

The committee’s resulting report, published in July 2020, found that “the impact of the pandemic on new parents and their children has so far not been given as much attention as it should have been”.

However, while the Government’s response to that report expressed sympathy with the position of expectant and new parents, it did not accept the committee’s recommendations on actions to address this impact.

One year on

In July 2021, a year on from the publication of the report, the Petitions Committee took further evidence from campaigners and experts to assess progress against the problems identified and recommendations made in the report.

The committee heard about the experiences of new parents over the past year and in light of the easing of covid-19 restrictions.

To inform the evidence session, the committee also sought the views of new parents and childcare providers through a survey and online engagement, which received over 8,700 responses.

Among its key findings, 77% of new parents said that “the cost of childcare has prevented me from getting the kind of childcare I need”, and 93% disagreed that they had been able to access crucial baby and toddler groups over the past 12 months. These concerns are addressed in the committee’s new report.

What happens next?

The Petitions Committee have submitted the report to the Government for their consideration. Once it’s been received, the committee will publish the Government’s response on its website and notify petitioners.

Further information

Image: unsplash