Prof slams Government’s teen pregnancy strategy

A university professor has told a gathering of parliamentarians and political officials that the Government’s £250 million Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has been “absolutely disastrous”.

David Paton, Professor of Industrial Economics at Nottingham University Business School, made his comments while addressing politicians, regulators and policy advisors at the Westminster Health Forum yesterday.

Speaking on the topic The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy and the role of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE), Prof Paton pointed to statistical evidence showing that since the strategy began diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections have increased, while the rate of decline in pregnancy rates has slowed.

He said: “The hope was the more money you spend the faster and faster the declines – in fact we have seen the opposite, the declines have decreased.”

He added: “There has been good work in certain areas of raising aspirations and bringing young mothers back into the education system but if you look at how good it has been at reducing pregnancy rates it has been absolutely disastrous.”

The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy came under harsh criticism last month when official figures revealed that 41.9 girls per 1,000 aged 15 to 17 became pregnant in 2007, compared with 40.9 in 2006.

This month Labour MP Tom Harris made the headlines when he declared on his internet blog: “I can no longer pretend that the army of teenage mothers living off the state is anything other than a national catastrophe”.

The Glasgow South MP said that current Government policies contributes to the problem by failing to provide young girls with appropriate moral guidance.

The Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy aimed to cut teen conceptions in half by 2010 but is likely to fall desperately short of this target.