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Additional support for new parents’ mental health is welcome, say MPs

27 October 2021

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, has welcomed the announcement of additional funding for mental health support for new parents, as called for in the Committee’s report on the impact of covid-19 on new parents.

The Government has announced an additional £100 million in funding for mental health support for new parents. The announcement by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP, made as part of the Autumn Budget Statement, follows the Petitions Committee’s report into the impact of covid-19 on new parents. The report, published in September, made a number of recommendations to the Government calling for better support for new parents and their babies, including for a dedicated covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents, and additional ‘catch-up’ mental health support.

Chair comments

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

"I welcome the Government’s announcement in the Autumn Statement of £100m of targeted funding for mental health support for new and expectant parents, which we called for in our recent report on the impact of covid-19 on this group. New parents have faced an accumulation of adversity during the pandemic, and I hope this funding goes some way to help address the increased anxiety, depression and loneliness many mothers in particular have experienced.

I am also pleased to see the additional £82m investment in family hubs, although this sum pales in comparison to the catch-up funding provided for education and other services supporting older children. The Government has not yet addressed its ‘baby blind spot’ regarding the support it is providing families as the country recovers from the pandemic.

There is still much to do to support new parents and their babies, and I hope to see further commitments in the Government’s response to our report."

Background

The Committee's latest report on the impact of covid-19 on new parents found that little progress had been made on the vast majority of the recommendations made by the Committee in its first report on this issue, published in July 2020.

In addition to calling for additional mental health support funding, which the Government has now announced, the Committee requested that the Government publish a dedicated covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents. Other key recommendations include:

  • 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 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 which will 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

The Government is expected to respond to the Committee’s recommendations within two months, and petitioners will be informed once it has been received and published.

What is the Autumn Budget statement?

During the Autumn statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer updates MPs on the government’s taxation and spending plans, which are based on the latest forecasts for the UK economy from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The OBR was established in 2010 to provide independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances.

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