Poverty and financial insecurity

Poverty and financial insecurity

Poverty is associated with adverse childhood experiences, low birth weight, and poorer physical and mental health (3). National research shows that:

  • In a 2023 survey of 500 new mothers, almost 3 in 4 (72%) reported that the cost of living crisis had a negative impact on their mental health (57).
  • A survey of women who were on maternity leave in Spring 2022 found that over half felt that money worries impacted their health or wellbeing while they were pregnant or on maternity leave (58). Some were unable to afford to attend baby and toddler groups, which could exacerbate stress and depression.
  • Women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds on low incomes often mention poverty as being one of the main issues that affects their health and wellbeing (59).

National population

  • Statutory maternity and paternity pay is £156.66 per week, which equates to 47% of the National Living Wage (54).
  • Over half (57%) of parents found it ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ difficult to pay their bills from September 2022 to January 2023 (55). Parents were more likely to have cut back on costs and taken on more credit than usual over this period, compared to people without children (55).

Local population

The local picture on poverty and financial insecurity was covered in chapter one of the needs assessment.

The Healthy Start scheme aims to help families on low incomes access healthy food, vitamins and milk, during pregnancy and the early years. Local voucher uptake in January 2023 varied from 61% in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, to 67% in Fenland, compared to the national average of 63% (56). This means that a total of 2580 people were eligible for, but did not receive, Healthy Start vouchers.

Figure 9: Number and % of eligible beneficiaries who received the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card in January 2023. Data source: (56)

Additional resources


54. Moran K, Bragg R, Dunstan R, Wood K. Cost of living on maternity leave survey [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: https://maternityaction.org.uk/cost-of-living-survey/
55. Office for National Statistics. Impact of increased cost of living on adults across Great Britain [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/expenditure/datasets/impactofincreasedcostoflivingonadultsacrossgreatbritain
56. NHS. Healthcare professionals [Internet]. Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start). 2023 [cited 2023 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthcare-professionals/
57. Seebohm L. International Women’s Day: embracing equity in perinatal mental health care [Internet]. Maternal Mental Health Alliance. 2023 [cited 2023 Mar 16]. Available from: http://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/news/iwd-embracing-equity-perinatal-mental-health/
58. Maternity Action. Cost of living on maternity leave survey [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://maternityaction.org.uk/cost-of-living-survey/
59. Psarros A. Mothers’ voices: Exploring experiences of maternity and health in low income women and children from diverse ethnic backgrounds [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/MothersVoices2018-FINAL.pdf