The impact of the Health in Pregnancy Grant
The impact of extending child benefit into pregnancy: the Health in Pregnancy grant
The Health in Pregnancy Grant was a lump-sum transfer of £190 to all pregnant women in the UK, introduced in April 2009 and abolished in April 2011. All pregnant women - regardless of income or labour market status - were eligible for the grant, from the 29th week of pregnancy. In order to claim it, pregnant women were required to visit their midwife or GP for an ante-natal check-up from the 25th week of pregnancy, when they were invited to fill in a simple application form.
The aim of the grant was to help pregnant women afford high-quality nutrition and reduce stress during pregnancy. This, it was claimed, would lead to improvements in birth outcomes - namely, a reduction in the incidence of low birthweight and prematurity. However, in 2011 the Coalition government abolished the grant alongside other benefit cuts, claiming that the grant was a "gimmick" and that there was no evidence that it was effective.
Supported by research funding from LSE's Social Policy Department and STICERD, we are conducting original research on whether the Health in Pregnancy Grant was effective at reducing cases of low birthweight and prematurity - the two main health outcomes at stake. To do this, we are applying to NHS Digital for record-level NHS hospital records data to see whether babies whose mothers were eligible for the grant were, on average, heavier and less likely to be premature than babies whose mothers were not eligible for the grant.
We aim to publish findings from the research in a public CASE seminar and a submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Further details will be posted on this website in due course.