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Sure Start Maternity Grant cut to go ahead

Young mother and babyThe government has decided to press ahead with plans to limit payment of the Sure Start Maternity Grant to families where a new baby is the only child under sixteen in the household.

This was made clear in the government’s response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s (SSAC) report on the planned cut.

The Law Centre and Gingerbread NI had argued in joint comments to the SSAC that cutting the grant would cause real hardship for families. The Maternity Grant provides a critical buffer against hardship at a time of significant expense.

The SSAC pointed out that the ‘all or nothing’ approach of £500 for a first child and nothing thereafter failed to recognize the ongoing costs associated with pregnancy and the post natal period.  It also argued that proceeding with the cut before the government has made provision for maternity items to be included in the Social Fund would be ‘unreasonably harsh.’

The SSAC therefore recommended that, if government presses ahead with the change:

  • the change should be delayed until eligibility for the Social Fund scheme is extended to maternity items; and
  • the grant should be retained for each child but reduced to £250 per child.

A recent report by Family Action, Born Broke, found that cuts to a number of key grants could be worth up to £1,725 over pregnancy and the first year of a child life for the poorest of families. For further information see:

    Government’s response to the SSAC, January 2011

    Law Centre (NI) and Gingerbread (NI) response to SSAC, December 2010

    Born Broke report

     

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