HC Deb 24 July 2002 vol 389 cc1558-9W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many low-income families have received the maternity grant in each year since it was established; and how many families who would otherwise have been eligible have been refused the grant because they have not accepted information about child healthcare from a doctor, midwife or health visitor. [72418]

Maria Eagle

Sure Start Maternity Grants were introduced on 27 March 2000 and complement the Sure Start programme, which is helping many thousands of children from the most deprived areas to get the best start in life. Sure Start Maternity Grants are now worth up to five times as much as the Maternity Payments they replaced and provide more help to the neediest families.

The scheme means more than just a cash payment. To ensure that vulnerable people have at least one contact with a health professional during pregnancy or following childbirth, we introduced a new condition of entitlement which requires people to provide evidence of having received advice on either child or maternal health from a health professional. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the vast majority of those people refused a grant for failing to produce a certificate from a health professional subsequently successfully reclaimed.

The information is in the table.

Year Number of Sure Start Maternity Grant awards Number refused because no certificate from health professional produced2
2000–01 170,000 9,000
2001–02 201,000 8,000


Annual Reports by the Secretary of State on the Social Fund 2000–01 and 2001–02; Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System.


1Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

2Figures include an unquantifiable number of cases where the person subsequently successfully reapplies for a grant.