Teenage parents deserve same benefits

Teenage parents aged under 16 should be entitled to the same
benefits for their children as any other parents, according to the
independent advisory group on teenage pregnancy, writes
Sally Gillen

Reforming the benefits system is one of 49 recommendations made
by the group in its first annual report.

The group, which is made up of 28 members drawn from a range of
professional fields including housing, health and education, was
set up last year to advise on the government’s teenage
pregnancy strategy.

The strategy, developed by the teenage pregnancy unit, sets out
a 30-point plan to improve prevention and halve the teenage
pregnancy rate by 2010, and to provide better support to teenage

Gill Frances, director of children’s personal development
at the National Children’s Bureau, who is a member of the
group, said: “Teenage parents under 16 do not get enough money to
live on, which means that the benefits system holds them in a
vulnerable position. Under 16s should be able to claim the same
amount of money as any other parent.”

The report sets out 11 key recommendations. Half of them focus
on prevention, half on supporting teenage parents. The former
includes looked after children, who are at disproportionate risk of
becoming teenage parents. Some 25 per cent of care leavers have had
a child by the age of 16, says the report.

Jill Varndell, another IAG member, commented: “Local authorities
do not have to collate information on the number of looked after
children who become pregnant which, as corporate parents, they
should be doing. The government should make it a performance

The report calls on the government to offer greater support to
teenage parents with education, housing and benefits.

Since 1997 the number of teenage parents who have stayed in
education, training or employment, has risen from 16 to 31 per

But the social exclusion unit’s teenage pregnancy strategy
highlighted education, training and employment as key to preventing
teenage parents from being socially excluded. The IAG’s
report identifies lack of child care provision as a major obstacle
to returning to education, and recommends that the government
should set up a national strategy to ensure that all teenage
parents seeking to return to education have access to affordable
child care.

To read the full report click
and then look under ‘latest news’ and ‘IAG




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