The government’s decision to reject a call for more support for those on parental leave in response to COVID-19 has been described as a “hammer blow” to new parents. 

The House of Commons Petitions Committee published a landmark report in July looking at the impact of the pandemic on those on parental leave. The committee recommended the government temporarily extend parental leave for three months, with pay, in light of the pandemic. 

Following successful lobbying from Adoption UK, the report sought to address long-standing issues with support for new adopters and special guardians. It recommended the introduction of statutory financial support for self-employed adopters and the extension of leave and pay entitlements to special guardians too. 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) rejected these recommendations, stating: “for the vast majority of parents, the current arrangements have been sufficiently generous to cater for the variety of circumstances they have found themselves in as a result of the pandemic. 

In responsethe Chair of the Petitions Committee Catherine McKinnell said: “I am extremely disappointed at the Government’s reply to this report and their response to understandably anxious mothers and fathers across the country.  

“The Government have rejected a whole range of entirely reasonable, and detailed, proposals that would have lessened the impact of this terrible pandemic on new parents. 

“This response simply fails to follow the science, and will come as a hammer blow to new parents across the country. 

The report will be debated in Parliament on Monday 5th October, so MPs can scrutinise the government’s response. BEIS has said it will “continue to engage with stakeholders such as Adoption UK to understand how we can ensure our family entitlements are fit for purpose”.