Birmingham and the Black Country is still a teenage pregnancy blackspot in Europe, nearly a decade after a strategy to halve numbers “spectacularly failed”.
Millions of pounds of NHS and council cash has been pumped into cutting the number of teenage mothers, which is one of the reasons for high rates of infant mortality in the region.
But pregnancies have been reduced by only 137 since 1998 in Birmingham, from 1,165 to 1,028 in 2008 – only a 14 per cent drop and rate of 50.1 pregnancies per thousand girls.
While Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have faired slightly better, cutting the number of young mothers by around 20 per cent in a decade, their rates are still among the worst in the country of 56.3 per thousand girls, 55.1 and 51.8 respectively.
Coventry is of particular concern with a rate of 62.8, increasing by three per cent, rather than falling, since 1998.
Britain still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in western Europe and the West Midlands features some of the worst areas in the UK.
Penny Barber, chief executive of Birmingham’s Brook sex health clinic, said: “In terms of halving rates in ten years, the region has spectacularly failed but if the Government had not set an ambitious target, no one would have done anything. But the good news is that some hard work is beginning to take effect and teenage pregnancies have reduced consistently.
“The good work must be continued and the fear is that with cuts to public services, schemes like this will be cut and any small change will discourage girls.”
Tony Blair told every authority they must cut under-18 pregnancies by half by 2012 but latest figures show that target is doomed to fail.
Schools Secretary Ed Balls has defended the Government’s record on teenage pregnancies, he said: “It was a really ambitious target, a 50 per cent fall. I think it was right to set an ambitious target and it is going to be really hard to make that amount of fall. But it is not enough. I’m still worried about it and there’s a lot more to do.”