In a speech to relationship counselling service Relate today, Mr Cameron said that the strength and stability of adult relationships in a family are vital to the wellbeing of children.
“Heavy-handed state intervention” was not the solution, the PM said, but the government should provide sensible, practical and modern support to help families deal with the issues they face.
Earlier, Mr Cameron had held a roundtable at Downing Street with Kids in the Middle, a coalition of 30 family, children and relationship organisations and 25 agony aunts, to discuss the best ways government could help to support families.
Speaking in Leeds this afternoon, he confirmed that £7.5 million a year will be provided to organisations such as Relate which are supporting relationships and announced that space in government buildings will be made available after hours to cut counselling waiting lists.
More help will also be given to new parents. Sure Start health visitors will be increased by 4,200 and government will consult on a system of flexible parental leave to allow mothers and fathers to share childcare during the first year of their child’s life.
The PM said:
This is not about creating a perfect world. It is not about government interfering in people’s lives. It is not about thinking government can fix everything. It is not even about thinking that we should try to fix everything. It is just a realistic, reasonable and sensible approach to supporting what I believe is one of the most important things in our national life: families.
Funding will also be made available for innovative schemes to help up to 500 troubled families in different local authority areas. Emma Harrison, an entrepreneur who specialises in getting jobseekers into work, will help to deliver the trials.
The PM said:
Emma and others will be helping to pioneer a new way of doing things: less bureaucratic, less impersonal, more human, more effective. Above all, treating the whole family as a unit, not just a collection of individuals.
Now our side of the bargain of this is we will strip away the bureaucracy and give her, and the many others we hope will follow her lead, the freedom that you need to make a difference. Your side of the bargain, her side of the bargain, is to get these families back on their feet and, crucially back into work with all the dignity and self-esteem that that can bring. I really believe we can make a difference in this way.
Read the PM’s article on families for The Sun.
Speeches and transcripts: Speech on families and relationships.