Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, responds to latest ONS figures published today on teenage pregnancies in England and Wales for 2017.
“These latest figures reflect the hard work of councils and their partners in helping to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of young people.
“But we mustn't become complacent. We must sustain this downward trend, accelerate improvements in areas with high rates and narrow the inequalities we see between them, which will not only make a difference to individual lives, but reduce the long-term demand on health and social care services.
“Evidence shows that high quality relationships and sex education, alongside welcoming and accessible sexual health services and friendly non-judgmental staff, help young people to delay sex until they are ready and to use contraception effectively.
“The Government’s plans to make relationships and sex education in secondary schools and relationships education in primary schools compulsory will help to reduce teenage pregnancies and health inequalities. It also needs to train teachers and implement a high quality curriculum in time for its roll-out in September as any delay risks a new cohort of young people facing unplanned pregnancy.
“The Government also needs to use the upcoming Spending Review to reverse the £700 million real terms reductions in public health grants between 2015/16 and 2019/20, to help improve upon the fall in these rates.”
1. Conception rates for England and Wales for 2017, including for Under 18, are available here.
#CouncilsCan: Spending Review 2019
With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. Securing the financial sustainability of local services must be the top priority for the Spending Review.