Pregnant women to get £120 each; lose jobs

All pregnant women are to receive £120 to spend on fruit and vegetables, reports The Observer. Yet for the 30,000 women who lose their jobs every year when they become pregnant, as the paper also reports, this will surely be little comfort.

From 2009, all pregnant women will get the payout when they are seven months pregnant. Although they will be able to spend the money on anything they want, they will be encouraged to purchase healthy food.

The proposals, currently being scrutinised by the Treasury, are expected to cost between £70m and £80m a year. Health economists have argued that if women do buy good food, it would save the health service far more than that amount by preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Looking at the other pregnancy-related news today, no doubt these women will fully appreciate the cash. According to a new book by Joanna Grigg, 30,000 women are fired, made redundant or leave their jobs once they become pregnant.

‘I don’t feel it’s getting better at work in quite the way that younger women might assume it is,’ said Grigg, who herself had to leave work when she had children.

‘We are raising girls to believe that they can have it all, and at the moment the workplaces are not delivering the changes. A lot of offices are still quite archaic in their attitudes, and they need to be dragged into the 21st century,’ she said. Her argument is that although the government is trying to lift the barriers for women, many factors conspire to make it very difficult for them to compete on the same ground as men. She points out that British women suffer the largest wage gap of all European countries, with a 17 per cent pay divide between male and female full-time staff and a 38 per cent difference between the sexes for part-time work.

Perhaps if the government made some effort to tackle this problem, it wouldn’t have to make quite so many payouts so pregnant women could afford some salad.

Photo by Missty, shared under a Creative Commons license