The aim of this study or discussion is to analyse and discuss the impact of the labour government policy on teenage pregnancy and social exclusion in the United Kingdom, to what extent has the policy achieved its aims and objectives and if the objectives have not been met, why and how it may be improved, what are its shortcomings and constraints in the implementation process or if the policy itself was not well put together.
Barry (2002) argues that social exclusion occurs when individuals or groups are not given the opportunity to participate in society, whether or not they desire to participate.
The British Government in 2001 defined social exclusion as “a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown”.(Cabinet Office, 2001)
Burchardt, Le Grand and Piachaud, (2002) identify consumption (the capacity to purchase goods and services, including health services), production (taking part in economically or socially valuable activities including voluntary work), political interaction or participation (involvement in local or national decision-making) and social interactions (integration with family, friends and the wider community) as the four key elements of social participation. These elements individually can represent an outcome measure for social exclusion or inclusion. Teenage pregnancy is a risk factor for social exclusion. Social disadvantage refers to a range of social and economic difficulties an individual can face such as unemployment, poverty, and discrimination and is distributed unequally on the basis of socio-demographic characteristics such as ethnicity, socioeconomic position, educational level, and place of residence (Wellings and Kane, 1999).
Social exclusion can happen to anybody but is more prevalent among young people in care, young people not in school and among teenagers growing up in low income households , or those growing up with family conflicts and people from some minority ethnic communities are disproportionately at risk of social exclusion. people are also most vulnerable at periods such as leaving home, care or education.
Teenage birth rates in the UK are the highest in Western Europe and pregnancy among girls under sixteen years of age in England and Wales have increased since 2006, more than four in ten girls still get pregnant before the age of twenty. Two-thirds of all students have sex before graduating from school and are exposed to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. (ONS, 2009).
Social exclusion Unit (2001) in their report to cabinet said that In England, there are nearly 90,000 conceptions a year to teenagers; around 7,700 to girls under 16 and 2,200 to girls aged 14 or under. Roughly three-fifths of conceptions – 56,000 – result in live births. Although more than two-thirds of under 16s do not have sex and most teenage girls reach their twenties without getting pregnant, the UK has teenage birth rates which are twice as high as in Germany, three times as high as in
France and six times as high as in the Netherlands.
Teens that get pregnant are less likely to complete their education therefore risks making their future worse. They are more likely to be single parents and are more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. Every year there are new entrants into teenage world.
The risk factors that affect early teenage pregnancies are economic disadvantages, peer pressure, emotional distress, sexual beliefs, attitude and skills, family structure, community disadvantages, sexual risk taking and poor contraceptive use. (Kirby, 2007).
The main policy initiatives (750)
New Labour (1997) introduced policies that aim to reduce young people’s risks of low educational attainment, poor or no job prospects, criminality and offending, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Tony Blair (PM, 2001) in a foreword to the Report by the Social Exclusion Unit on Preventing Social exclusion said “Preventing exclusion where we can, reintegrating those who have become excluded, and investing in basic minimum standards for all and we have worked in a new way – developing partnerships around common goals with the public services, communities and charities, businesses and church organisations that have been struggling with the causes and symptoms of poverty for so long.”
The policy used risk management approaches as a way of reducing risks of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people by using strategies that gives the individual choices , responsibilities and make them part of the solution. New Labour’s policies on teenage pregnancy centres around teenage pregnancy and sexuality using Knowledge Acquisition, Shifting Blame and Constituting Knowing Active Welfare Citizens as strategic Risk Management options.
The New Labour government set up a Teenage Pregnancy Strategy overseen by the Teenage Pregnancy Unit and the strategy centres on reducing the rate of teenage conceptions, with the specific aim of halving the rate of conceptions among under 18s by 2010.
Getting more teenage parents into education, training or employment, to reduce their risk of long term social exclusion.
The Social Exclusion Unit was setup by the New Labour government to co-ordinate policy-making issues like school exclusion and truancy, rough sleeping, teenage pregnancy, youth at risk and deprived neighbourhoods through,
preventing social exclusion happening in the first place – by reducing the numbers who go through experiences that put them at risk or targeting action to compensate for the impact of these experiences ,
reintegrating those who become excluded back into society, by providing clear ways back for those who have lost their job or their housing, and missed out on learning and
getting the basics right by delivering basic minimum standards to everyone in health, education, in-work income, employment and tackling crime.
Critically analyse policies-SID,RED,MUD
Critical analysis of the Policy, (2000)
Action to prevent social exclusion is delivering results:
the proportion of children in homes where no-one is in work has fallen from 17.9 per cent in
1997 to 15.1 per cent in 2001;
over 100,000 children are benefiting from the Sure Start programme to ensure they are ready to
learn by the time they reach primary school; school exclusions have fallen by 18 per cent between 1997 and 1999; under-18 conception rates have fallen in four out of the last five quarters;
more 16-18 year olds are staying on in education;
the Care Leavers strategy has been introduced;
the Rough Sleepers Unit is piloting new approaches to end the fast track to homelessness from
prison and the Armed Forces;
Stakeholder Pensions will help moderate earners build up better pension entitlements from this
April. Some 18 million people stand to gain from the State Second Pension, providing more
support than under the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) for modest and low paid
workers, and for carers and the disabled; and
the personal tax and benefit measures introduced over this Parliament mean that by October
2001, a single-earner family on half average earnings and with two young children will be £3,000
a year better off in real terms compared with 1997. Families with someone in full-time work will
have a guaranteed minimum income of at least £225 a week, £11,700 a year. And families with
children in the poorest fifth of the population will on average be £1,700 a year – or around
15 per cent – better off.
And programmes to reintegrate people who have become excluded are recording successes:
since 1997 more than 270,000 young unemployed people have moved into work through the
New Deal for Young People;
over 6,000 people have found work through the New Deal for Disabled People and over 75,000
people had found work between October 1998 and December 2000 through the New Deal for
all Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have increased provision for excluded pupils, a third already
do so, and two-thirds plan to offer them full-time education in 2001;
between June 1998 and June 2000, the number of rough sleepers fell by 36 per cent; and
the proportion of teenage parents in education, employment or training has increased from 16 to
31 per cent between 1997 and 2000.
And changes in basic public and private services are focusing improvements on the poorest:
higher standards than ever before in Key Stage 2 English and maths with a ten and 13
percentage point improvement in each subject respectively between 1998 and 2000;
44 Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in the 88 most deprived areas2 improved their Key Stage 2
maths results by 14 per cent or more between 1998 and 2000. The most improved area was
Tower Hamlets, with an increase of 23 per cent;
24 LEAs in deprived areas improved their Key Stage 2 English results by 11 per cent or more over
the same period;
between 1998 and 2000 children from most minority ethnic communities saw a rise in
achievement of GCSEs. This includes an eight percentage point increase in the number of black
pupils achieving five or more GCSE grade A*-C, against an average for all pupils of three
unemployment has fallen faster than the national average in 19 of the 20 highest unemployment
the combined effects of Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), Winter Fuel Payments and free
television licences for those aged 75 and over mean that from April 2001 around two million of
the poorest pensioner households will be at least £800 a year better off compared with 1997 – a
real terms rise in living standards of 17 per cent.
together with tax and benefit reforms, the national minimum wage has helped to make work pay
and encourage individuals to move from benefits into work; and
by the end of 2000, all the high street banks offered a basic bank account available to all.
Preventing social exclusion
These improvements are a good start. Trends on literacy, school exclusion, post-16 participation and
rough sleeping are on track. Incomes for the poorest pensioners and families, and for low-paid
workers, have risen substantially. Where programmes have been slow to deliver results, for example
on truancy, the Government is intensifying action. But many of the programmes in this document
are only in their infancy, and are on course to deliver more substantial results over time. At the same
time, policy innovation has been accompanied by new structures and new ways of working within
Government. These have created clearer accountability for cross-cutting subjects such as rough
sleeping, neighbourhood renewal and youth policy; set the basis for a new relationship of
Partnership with groups outside Government; organised services around the needs of the client;
and helped people to help themselves
Policy can exacerbate and not alleviate
The 1999 UK government’s report on teenage pregnancy concluded that the following were risk factors for pregnancies among teenage girls: socioeconomic disadvantage, having been oneself the child of a teenage parent, poor communication with parents, not being in education, training or work after age 16 years, peer pressure to have sex early, educational problems such as low achievement and truancy, alcohol use, low knowledge about sexual health, and learning about sex from sources other than school
However, these conclusions were based on evidence that was rather old or from cross-sectional studies, which are not the best guide to current trends