David Cameron: ‘I want a family test applied to all domestic policy’


The Relationships Foundation welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement today: “from here on I want a family test applied to all domestic policy. If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.”

Michael Trend, Executive Director of the Relationships Foundation said:

"We now urge the government to consider our proposals to show how 'Family Proofing' of policy should analyse the consequences of any policy, regardless of whether it is explicitly aimed at families, for its impact on family relationships and wellbeing. We also exhort the government to consider putting such a radical policy shift in the easily-understood context of what we have called the ‘Triple Test’ – that policy development, proposals for legislation and government action should all be subject to a triple test – economic, environmental and social.

"The Relationships Foundation has been making the case for a clear over-arching family policy for a number of years. We begin our days in families, and they care for us in old age. Our families touch every aspect of our development as human beings, and of our lives at work, at home, and in society. As such they offer the greatest potential for social change, for wealth, and wellbeing. Sideline family policy and you court systemic failure.

“Families, are at the heart of a big society. They have intrinsic importance for the sense of connectedness, support, identity, moral development and belonging they enable. They contribute directly to wellbeing – a key government goal. In particular, government has an interest in strengthening family relationships that are more likely to support reduced anti-social behaviour and improved community safety through addressing the relational causes of crime (eg, unmediated peer influences).

“At the Relationships Foundation we have long argued that families need support now more than ever before. We must move beyond the point where politicians are wary of using language which suggests that enabling good relationships is the business of the state. The state already is heavily involved. Taxpayers pick up many of the costs when relationships fail. Families are under pressure and government must move to provide motivation, opportunity and support for family relationships.

"We don't doubt the Prime Minister's sincerity when he talks about family policy but we have often pointed out the many missed opportunities that have already occurred during his government due to failure to follow through on the intention of making the UK a more 'family-friendly' country. The single most important practical development we would like to see now is for the Prime Minister to formally place family policy at the heart of his government, by locating responsibility for it directly where he can keep a close eye on it – either at Number 10 or at the Cabinet Office."

Notes to Editors

See also:

The Relationships Foundation Family Pressure Gauge: a report that has been developed to measure progress towards the goal of making Britain the ‘most family friendly country in Europe’ – the stated intent of the coalition government. It will be updated annually, provide the framework for press and policy comment as we hold government to account and will promote greater awareness of ways in which families are undermined, and may be supported.

The Relationships Foundation has also published its third annual Cost of Family Breakdown Index in February this year. The total cost to the UK was £41.74 billion in 2010-11. This is £1,364 for every taxpayer: ‘Counting the Cost of Family Failure 2011 Update’.

The Penumbra Effect – Family-centred Public Policy. The penumbra effect shows that family is the key factor in many areas of policy. The government cannot legislate better families into existence, but it can support family across a range of issues such as housing, debt, working time legislation, or social care.