Families matter. Think of any big social problem we face - from crime and welfare dependency, to ill-health, drug addiction and educational failure - and more often than not, it comes back to the family. This isn’t a hunch. Let me give you just one fact: more than two-thirds of young offenders grew up without both parents.
Some might think we just have to accept this as a fact of life. I don’t. Millions of parents are desperate to make things work and raise their kids right, they just feel the whole world is against them. That’s something we want to change. One of the big ambitions of this government is to make Britain much more family-friendly.
Question is: how? Well, I don’t think government can make life perfect for families. But there are sensible things we are doing to ease the stresses and strains that come with family life.
So for those struggling to make ends meet, we’re changing the welfare system so a life in work always pays more than a life on benefits. For couples who want more time together, we’re going to give everyone with a child under the age of the eighteen the right to request flexible working. And for new parents who’ve just had a baby and finding life difficult, we’re increasing the number of health visitors in the country so everyone gets professional support in the home.
But making life better for families isn’t just about what government does - it’s about what we all do, whether that’s business, communities or our great charities. This morning, I’m meeting Kids in the Middle. This is a group of national charities and Agony Aunts, which Deidre Sanders, from the Dear Deidre column, is involved with. They do amazing work in helping children whose parents fight a lot - and in helping those parents stop getting into that situation in the first place. They, and so many organisations like them, provide precisely the sort of relationship advice and support families want. That’s why we are making sure they get the money they need, dedicating £7.5 million a year to supporting those organisations which work so hard to help family relationships and children.
Years down the line, I want people to look back and say: yes, this government got the economy back on track. But I also want them to say: they did other things to make life better too. Making sure that our families are strong and every child gets the best start in life is a vital part of that.