Suzanne Beishon (Expectant mother)
The Finland government has generously sent Kate and Wills one of the maternity ‘boxes’ given to all expectant mothers in Finland since the 1930s.
Many attribute one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world to these boxes. A box currently includes clothes, a sleeping bag, eco-nappies, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, bedding and a small mattress.
All designed to aid children’s start in life no matter what background they are from. To receive a box, mothers visit prenatal clinics and doctors from the fourth month of pregnancy.
But while Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge benefit from what has become such a vital and celebrated part of Finland’s welfare state, pregnant women in Britain face ever increasing cuts and insecurity.
On top of huge attacks to the welfare state and in particular the NHS, including the closures of maternity units and massive midwifery shortages, expectant mothers have seen an increasing number of attacks to rights and benefits that lucky Kate will never have to worry about.
The below inflation 1% rise in statutory maternity payments, meaning a cut in real terms, comes coupled with cuts to maternity and child benefits.
The Health in Pregnancy Grant was scrapped in 2011. This was a universal £190 payment made in the later stages of pregnancy.
The £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant for parents on low incomes to assist with the cost of a new baby was restricted from 2011.
Child Benefit was frozen from 2011 and has been cut where one parent earns between £50,000 and £60,000 (if a parent earns above £60,000 they get nothing).
Following cuts to the childcare element of tax credits, from 80% to 70% of childcare costs, almost a quarter of mothers have had to give up work.
A study from 2005 showed that 30,000 women lost their jobs each year as a result of pregnancy discrimination.
But now new charges for employment tribunals mean that unlawfully dismissed expectant mothers face paying £1,200 to make a pregnancy discrimination claim.
So while Kate is able to put her feet up and reap the benefits from Finland, have their ‘flat’ refurbished by the state for £1 million, receive gifts of organic baby food, have three parking spaces outside their private hospital suite (£5,500 for the first 24-hours and £1,000 for every extra day, not including doctor fees) suspended for the whole of July and many other perks of marrying into the parasitic royal family, most expectant mothers face a very different reality.