Cllr Linda Thomas, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, responds to quarterly figures on teenage pregnancies in England and Wales, published today by the Office for National Statistics.
“Under-18 conception rates in England have more than halved since the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was launched more than 17 years ago, which reflects 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.
“However, all this good work could be undermined by the false economy of government cuts to councils’ public health funding, which could make the fall in teenage conception rates even harder to sustain.
“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. Government must now work to train teachers and implement a high quality curriculum in time for its roll-out in September 2019 as any delay risks a new cohort of young people facing unplanned pregnancy.”
- Under 18 conception rates for England and Wales for the first quarter of 2017 are available here.
- The LGA, in conjunction with Public Health England, has published a briefing for councillors highlighting best practice by councils in reducing teenage pregnancy, which is available here.
- Councils’ public health grant funding is being cut by £600 million between 2015/16 and 2019/2020.