Helping families is the best way to improve the life chances of children in Britain, David Cameron will say today (18 August 2014) in a speech that will see the government increase the support it gives.
The Prime Minister will set out a range of measures focused on helping new parents, supporting couples to stay together and addressing the underlying causes of family breakdown. Alongside this is a new commitment that will ensure promoting family life is placed at the very heart of government decision-making.
New measures to help families
The measures will include:
More support to parents
Tens of thousands of couples will benefit from relationship counselling, with the annual budget doubled to £19.5 million. New parents will get extra help in ante-natal classes and more advice from health visitors once the baby has arrived.
Help for troubled families
More than 500,000 families will now receive help via a programme to support families facing multiple problems, such as unemployment, anti-social behaviour, debt and truancy. The programme expands from its current focus on 120,000 families, with work starting immediately in over 50 council areas before spreading across the country.
Giving more children a family
New figures out today show that the number of adoptions is up by 25% in the last year, thanks to an increase in financial support to councils and voluntary groups and a faster adoption process. The time it takes to adopt has reduced for the first time ever. The government will go further and from next month councils will be able will apply for £19 million national Adoption Support Fund. Any school child adopted from care will benefit from an extra £1900 of additional pupil premium money.
Families at the heart of government
A family test on all government policies will be formally introduced into impact assessments from this autumn. It will see every single domestic policy examined for its impact on the family. Policies that fail to support family life will not be allowed to proceed.
Speech by David Cameron
The Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to say:
For me, nothing matters more than family. It’s at the centre of my life and the heart of my politics. As a husband and a father I know how incredibly lucky I am to have a wonderful wife and three amazing children.
But in loving my family, and in reflecting on my own upbringing, I’ve also learned something incredibly important about the way that family and politics are inextricably linked.
Long before you get to the welfare state, it is family that is there to care for you when you are sick or when you fall on tough times. It’s family that brings up children, teaches values, passes on knowledge, instils in us all the responsibility to be good citizens and to live in harmony with others. And so for someone from my political viewpoint who believes in building a stronger society from the bottom up, there is no better place to start than with family.
So I think it’s absolutely right that government should do everything possible to help support and strengthen family life in Britain today.
I want every government department to be held to account for the impact of their policies on the family.
The reality is that in the past the family just hasn’t been central to the way government thinks. So you get a whole load of policy decisions which take no account of the family and sometimes make these things worse – whether it’s the benefits system incentivising couples to live apart or penalising those who go out to work or whether it’s excessive bureaucracy preventing loving couples from adopting children with no family at all.
We can’t go on having government taking decisions like this which ignore the impact on the family.
I said previously that we would introduce a family test into government. Now that test is being formalised as part of the impact assessment for all domestic policies. Put simply that means every single domestic policy that government comes up with will be examined for its impact on the family.
Read the full speech on families.