Newsletter August 2011

The Relationships Foundation Newsletter August 2011


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

The Relationships Foundation welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement in response to recent rioting in some UK cities: “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.”


Click here for the full press release.

In the media

The August editorial of the British Medical Journal from Anglia Ruskin’s public health Professor Woody Caan is on UK family friendliness and our Family Pressure Gauge. Click here to read more.


What does Britain’s phone hacking scandal have in common with its earlier scandal over parliamentary expenses and with the failure of several of its banks during the global financial crisis? Check out this article in The Sydney Morning Herald which mentions our Guide to Trust.


Sam Barker, our Head of Family Policy, was on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire talking about our response to the Dilnot Commission. Click here for more and to listen to the interview with Jeremy Sallis.


Our £42 billion cost of family failure was cited by Lord Browne in the finance bill debate (column 1168) and Tim Montgomerie’s GrowthManifesto.


Childcare:failing to meet the needs of working parents is the title of an interesting study published by The Resolution Foundation that quotes our Unsocial Hours: Unsocial Families? report.


We have also been live tweeting from the People Powered Change event organised by the Big Lottery Fund and the Institute of Education Centre for Longitudinal Studies Parenting & Child Wellbeing ConferenceFollow us on Twitter to tune in.


Campaigning tip

You can be part of the change we want to see. Responding to government consultations can be very valuable. It can alert the government to areas they might have missed or consequences they might not have thought through. One current consultation is about children’s rights: the Department of Education are keen to hear what children and young people think about their plans to strengthen the role of the Children’s Commissioner. They are also encouraging organisations working with children and young people to lead group discussions and send in a response on their behalf.


Families and local authorities: the Department for Education has published Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities. Local authorities have until 30 September to assess how they will comply to these requirements, let them know what you think.