Teenage pregnancy is at a record low, the Office for National Statistics has revealed today. But sexual health charity FPA has warned that this could change, as a result of recent cuts to contraception services.
The England and Wales under-18 conception rate for 2015 is 20.8 per 1,000 females aged 15-17. This is an 8.8% reduction from 2014, and a 55.4% reduction from 1998.
FPA’s Chief Executive, Natika H Halil, said:
“We welcome the continued reduction of teenage pregnancy rates for England and Wales. This reduction is thanks to the hard work of health and education professionals, and the legacy of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy – a key component of which was improving access to contraception.
“However, recent dramatic cuts to contraception services could see this improvement reverse. The UK Government has cut public health budgets by a whopping £800m over six years.
"Research by the Advisory Group on Contraception has found that in 2015–2016, more than one in six local authorities decreased their spending on contraception services as a result of this public health cut.
“FPA’s report, Unprotected Nation, found that just a 10 per cent cut in spending on sexual health and contraceptive services across the UK could mean that teenage pregnancy rates go back to 2003 levels, undoing more than a decade of hard work. The UK still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in western Europe.
“Not all teenage pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted, but young people who become parents under 18 have a higher risk of poorer health, education, economic and social outcomes.
“FPA therefore calls on the Department of Health to take responsibility for ensuring that contraception services are not cut, and to demand that the Treasury provides the necessary funds to protect this essential part of healthcare.”
Unprotected Nation 2015 considered the effects of a 10% cut in spending on contraception and sexual health services.
Private lives, Public health: The changing shape of contraceptive services in England post-2013 – December 2016 (PDF) conducted an audit of the impact of funding cuts and commissioning reforms on contraceptive services in England.