September 09, 2007

Let's just spend the money

Money down the drainPregnant women will get about £200 paid into their bank account to spend on healthy food under a government initiative. But there is no measure to ensure the cash is spent on healthy food.

The government say cash is a "key determinant" when it comes to good health and healthy eating in expectant mothers, even though mothers-to-be on low incomes can already apply for a £500 grant from 29 weeks of pregnancy to help towards the cost of having a new baby.

Infant mortality rates have done down, but more so among affluent sectors of society than poorer socio-economic groups, which is widening the health inequality gap. By 2010, the government wants to see a 10% reduction in this gap from the baseline year of 1998.

So will poorer mothers to be spend the £200 lump sum on a better diet over the remaining weeks of their pregnancy? No one knows. Will the policy work? No one knows. How do they spend the £500 they already get? I think we should be told.

Should we perhaps have a pilot scheme, then? No point. It's only taxpayers' money and the announcement makes the government look good.

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