ABSTRACT

Far from being consigned to history, poverty remains a fact of life for millions of people living in the United Kingdom in the twenty-first century. Although the relationship between poverty and poorer health and life expectancy has been known for around 160 years, progress towards its eradication has arguably been faltering and fragmented because of differing political interpretations of the causes of poverty. This chapter focuses on material explanations of poverty and analyses the issues and limitations inherent in policy approaches, both in the recent past and contemporaneously. The impact of poverty on the health of poor mothers and their babies is explored, with a focus on lone mothers and teenage mothers, together with the challenges presented for midwifery practice. The chapter concludes with a review of some innovative approaches to practice.