David Cameron urged to help new parents


By Martin Graham

CAMPAIGNERS are calling on David Cameron to help other parents who face hardship after the birth of their children.

Scots parents are being forced back into the workplace before they are ready because state benefits are so mean.  

Mothers are entitled to take a year off after giving birth, receiving 90% of their salary for six weeks.

But after this the amount drops to just £125 per week for the next 33 weeks.

Further time taken after this period is unpaid.

Michael Connellan of the Family and Parenting Institute said: “When the Prime Minister returns from his own period of paternity leave he must take steps to make parenting easier for all UK families.

“Here in the UK, maternity and paternity leave is quite short, causing parents increased stress at an already challenging time.

“Greater leave rights would encourage shared parenting roles between mothers and fathers and would benefit every member of a growing family.

“Aside from that maternity and paternity is simply too low.

“Many couples dip into poverty when they have children.

“Maternity pay drops below minimum wage level after the first six weeks.

“Paternity pay is also less than minimum wage.”

Paternity entitlement currently stands at two weeks on statutory £125 per week, less than the minimum wage.

Ros Bragg from the charity Maternity Action described the situation as ‘extremely disappointing.’

She said: “The value of maternity and paternity pay is not publicly acknowledged in this country.

“It’s an investment in the health and wellbeing of young children which brings a return throughout that child’s life.

“Few families can afford to lose one income for the 12 months following the child’s birth.

“Statutory pay should be set at rates which give families real choices about caring for their new baby.”

Other European countries give new parents much more support after the birth of a child.

Sweden offers 56 weeks maternity leave at 80 per cent of earnings, and extra paid leave to care for children up to their eighth birthday.

Norwegian mothers enjoy full salary for 44 weeks or 80 percent of their salary for 54 weeks.

In Denmark, mothers get 18 weeks at 90 per cent of pay, while Dutch mothers enjoy 16 weeks at full pay.

Scottish parents are hit particularly hard because of the spiralling costs of childcare.

Surveys show that fees for council run nurseries are increasing at twice the rate of those in England and more than five times that of Wales.

Figures released by the Daycare Trust show that an average week’s childcare in Scotland costs £100.38, compared with £93.28 in England and £80.25 in Wales.

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