We have used new powers to introduce a new Best Start Grant, helping parents on low incomes with £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of later children, to buy the pram or other big essentials they need. The first Best Start Grant payments were delivered before Christmas – 6 months earlier than planned.
This year we will also start delivering the Best Start Grant nursery age payment – a £250 payment that will be made to low income families around the time a child can start nursery – and the Best Start Grant school payment – a £250 payment that will be made to low income families around the time a child can start school.
Every baby in Scotland is entitled to receive a Baby Box. Based on the successful Finnish model, the box includes essential items for a baby’s first weeks and months and aims to tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents. Since the launch in August 2017, we have delivered over 56,000 baby boxes.
We have expanded access to IVF so that it is now the most generous in the UK. Patients referred for IVF treatment on the NHS in Scotland may now be eligible for three full cycles rather than two, increasing their chances of conceiving a baby. Families who have children in the home but where one parent has no biological children are now be eligible too
We have introduced a new £1.5 million Neonatal Expenses Fund to help parents of premature babies with the additional costs of their child being in hospital.
We’ve extended free vitamins to all pregnant women, helping improve the health of mothers and babies. And we have recruited an extra 500 health visitors so that every child benefits from a health development check at 30 months.
We are significantly expanding the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP), so that eligible first time mothers across the country can benefit from the programme.
We are providing more than £50 million to improve mental health services for expectant and new mothers. One in five women are affected by mental health problems during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth, and we want to transform the service that they receive – by providing more counselling support for less acute issues and better specialist support for moderate to acute problems.
We have also established a working group to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace. And at Westminster will fight to protect the rights of pregnant women and new mothers afforded under EU laws.