As part of the government’s Autumn Budget 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP has awarded £100 million of additional funding to give mental health support to new parents. The measure was partly introduced due to the impact of COVID-19 on new parents, who were largely left feeling isolated due to limited options to seek out support or childcare during national lockdowns.
Catherine McKinnell MP, who is the Chair of the Petitions Committee that campaigned for the funding, welcomed the development.
Background to the funding
The Petitions Committee had previously issued a report about the effect of the pandemic on new parents back in July 2020, and this included a variety of policy recommendations. These included:
- Funding for parents impacted by the pandemic
- In-person visits arranged by local authorities
- A review of health and safety requirements for pregnant women in the workforce
- Extension of redundancy protection for new parents and pregnant women
- A review of the affordability of childcare
It’s great news that the government has decided to follow up on these findings.
According to the report, there was an increase in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues during the pandemic, and new parents suffered more than many other groups.
Where the money will go
The government plans to spend £82 million on creating family hubs to give parents mental health support from professionals and access to resources as they navigate parenthood.
A portion of the funding will also go toward providing “catch-up” support for those who struggled during the pandemic but weren’t able to access the help they needed at the time.
A baby blindspot?
Although the news of additional funding is a welcome development for new parents and those that have been campaigning in their interests, some will argue that there’s a lot still to be done to help this group. It’s true that other issues (like catch-up support for older children) have received far more funding, leading some to suggest the country suffers from a “baby blindspot.”
It remains to be seen whether the government will respond to the rest of the Committee’s recommendations, though we can expect a response within the next two months.