The Department of Work and Pensions has announced plans to introduce a new “families test” which is intended to ensure any and all new laws and policies support a healthy family life.
The news comes after new guidance has been released, which sets out five questions which should be used to challenge any new policies or legislation.
The questions, designed to support strong and stable families, are:
- What kind of impact might the policy have on family formation?
- What kind of impact will the policy have on families going through key transitions such as becoming parents, getting married, fostering or adopting, bereavement, redundancy, new caring responsibilities or the onset of a long-term health condition?
- What impacts will the policy have on all family members’ ability to play a full role in family life, including with respect to parenting and other caring responsibilities?
- How does the policy impact families before, during and after couple separation?
- How does the policy impact those families most at risk of deterioration of relationship quality and breakdown?
The guidance addresses for the first time the need to ensure laws and policies will not hinder the lives of families.
It was put together following extensive consultation with families groups and is set to ensure all departments understand the influence of policies or laws it may be considering introducing. Policy should support relationships and the guidance aims to make sure all civil servants, ministers and members of government fully comprehend how that support works.
Following the announcement of the new guidance Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Families form the foundations of our society and we know strong, stable families can make a huge difference in improving the quality of life and opportunities afforded to our children.
“To help build a stronger and better society and secure the country’s future we have to ensure we support those families, and back up the relationships on which they are founded.”
Mr Duncan-Smith added that the guidance is a sign of how the Conservative led coalition government is “on the side of hard-working families in Britain”.
The guidance has been welcomed by charity Relate.
Ruth Sutherland, Chair of the Relationships Alliance and CEO of Relate, has told the press she welcomes the guidance.
She said: “It’s an important step towards putting families and relationships at the heart of public policy. This is something we’ve done an awful lot of campaigning for. And we’re immensely proud to have supported its development.”
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