£190 grant to be paid to all mums-to-be in final weeks of pregnancy

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The Independent Online

The Government has pledged to give expectant mothers a one-off payment of £190 during the final few weeks of their pregnancy.

The Health in Pregnancy Grant will be available from April 2009 and will benefit tens of thousands of women a year. The grant will be paid to all mums-to-be – in other words, it will not be means tested – but to claim the cash, a woman must be under the care of a midwife or health worker.

Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said he warmly welcomed the grant, particularly as it was to be universally available: "It is important for it to be non-means tested and available to all pregnant women, as their continued health during pregnancy is important for themselves, their baby and their family."

The nature of the grant has changed since it was first announced in the pre-Budget report of 2006. Back then it was proposed that child benefit would be paid to all women from week 29 of their pregnancy. However, the Government has now decided that a one-off payment at week 25 would be easier to administer. Ministers hope that the grant will help women to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle as they enter the final few weeks of their pregnancy, by which time most of them will have stopped working.

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