On Monday, local MP Luke Hall met with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Victoria Atkins to request her support in the delivery of paid leave from work for the parents of babies born needing neonatal care, at the earliest possible opportunity.
Neonatal care is the type of care a baby receives in a hospital if they are born premature, full-term but with a condition or illness that needs medical attention, or with a low birth weight.
A long-term supporter of this cause, Luke has championed the issue, raising the need to deliver Neonatal Leave and Pay, which will allow parents to take additional time off work where their child is in neonatal care, ensuring they are no longer in the impossible position of having to choose between keeping their job and spending time with their baby.
Last year Luke held his own debate in Westminster, and met with leaders from across Government including Secretaries of State from the Departments for Health and Business, Treasury officials, and the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The campaign has culminated in the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill, which has now successfully been passed by the House of Commons, and is now awaiting approval from the House of Lords before it becomes law.
Following on from this welcome progress, it is vital that the new entitlement can now be delivered as soon as possible, in order to ensure that as many families as possible can benefit from this.
Estimates suggest that it may be as far away as April 2025 before new parents can access paid neonatal leave from work, with the Treasury making the case that it may take up to 18-months from the Bill receiving final approval from Parliament, in order to ensure that HMRC staff can be ready to deliver it, and that IT payment systems in place can be upgraded to process these changes.
Luke therefore met with the Minister Victoria Atkins to demand that the Government explores every mechanism possible to speed up the process, and get Neonatal Leave and Pay rolled out as soon as possible.
Commenting after the meeting Luke explained: “Delivering paid leave from work for parents to spend time in hospital with their newborn babies in neonatal care, at one of the hardest times in their lives, is essential to so many people.
The Government have already set the money aside to deliver paid neonatal leave. Parents across the UK cannot afford to wait another two years just for HMRC to get their internal computer systems online. We need the Government to start preparations for the new system now, so that parents can begin receiving the support they need as soon as the new laws are in place.”