David Cameron denies parenting classes 'nanny state'


David Cameron: ''Parents want help''

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Describing vouchers for parenting classes in England as a "nanny state" policy is "nonsense", David Cameron has said.

In three trial areas, those with children aged up to five can get a £100 voucher towards parenting classes.

The PM has also announced a new NHS online information service for parents of very young children.

Labour said it had an "open mind" but schemes needed to be "value for money" and reach a "wide range of parents".

Defending the policy, David Cameron said: "I think this whole debate about nanny state is nonsense.

"Parents want help. It is in our interest as a society to help people bring up their children.

"We're taught to drive a car. We're taught all sorts of things at school. I think it makes perfect sense to help people with parenting."

He denied that a focus on parenting and childcare was a diversion from "big issues" like the economy.

The vouchers are now available from health professionals and on the high street through the chemist Boots.

Start Quote

Britain's families need Supernanny, not the nanny state”

End Quote David Cameron in 2006

The scheme, known as Can Parent, was launched in October 2011. It is being piloted in Middlesbrough, Camden in London and High Peak in Derbyshire.

The government hopes to encourage demand for these kind of classes and "reduce the stigma of asking for information, advice and help with parenting."

In addition, the government is launching a new NHS online service for parents covering areas such as breastfeeding, nappy changing and post natal depression.

Expectant parents or those with a baby under a month old will be able to sign up for text and email alerts providing them with "regular, relevant and tailored" advice including short information films and advice from other parents.

From July, subsidised relationship support services will be available for new parents and those expecting in several trial areas: York, Leeds, North Essex, Hackney, the City of London, Islington and Westminster. The scheme will not be extended to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, if successful.

Mr Cameron said he would have liked parenting lessons himself.

"I've got three, and the youngest is not yet two, and I still sometimes think I would love to have a bit more information about how to get them to do the things I need them to do sometimes," he told ITV1's Daybreak.

However, in 2006 in a speech to the National Family and Parenting Institute, Mr Cameron suggested parents found TV programmes like Supernanny more useful than parenting classes.

"In recent years, there's been an explosion of information about bringing up children: TV programmes like Wifeswap and Supernanny, books and magazines, and online resources," said Mr Cameron.

"These can be more useful than formal options like parenting classes, to which there is often a stigma attached.

"So we should encourage the growth of modern forms of parenting advice.

"Britain's families need Supernanny, not the nanny state."

Shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg said he would keep an "open mind" on parenting classes but said the government "has hit families with children hard" with cuts to tax credits and Sure Start centres.

He said: "Most importantly, any new scheme must be able to reach a wide range of parents from different backgrounds and provide real value for money."


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  • Comment number 302.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Ahh the heavy smack of Entitlement.. The Socialists love so much..
    How many ways can they find to steal & giveaway the poor leached tax-payers sweat ?
    I think it must be endless.. God Bless & protect them. if there is any justice they will have the last laugh..

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    What's wrong with being a 'Nanny State?' British children are the responsibility of all the British community. This is why we have a National Health Service. We have an obligation to care for each other.If some Parents have difficulty - then help should be provided.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    I get very worried when policitcans start using pleb TV/Web as inspiration for government policy, Eg Supernanny, Mary Porter, Mumsnet.

    Is this a feeble attempt to appeal to 'the masses' ? Or another attempt to bury 'bad news' or deflect from DC's relationships with certain media tycoons. Can't imagine Gordon Brown in pyjamas somehow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    You sound like a pompus individual that also has a nanny."

    Just someone who thinks it more important for individuals to seek creative ways to avoid paying their obligations to the sustenance and functioning of our society than that it functions correctly, sustainably and fairly. He may also have a nanny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Perhaps the problem is judging teenagers the same way as middle ages people and a rose tinted view of your own youth. Maybe they are awful, but they're probably better than you realise, most turn out okay. Maybe not obviously hating them might also make them behave better around you.

    My Nan obviously hated my sister and surprisingly she was much moodier when we saw Nan than at other times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.


    Stop being such a pompous mouth breather and open your eyes. I have family meembers that work as public sector workers that have these feckless people admit as much, it makes for an easy life for them due to the tax payer lashing out for their fecklessness.

    If you were closer to reality you would see this, but your appear to be one of these wretched champagne socialists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    re: 240

    Give every teacher a 30p voucher to buy a garden cane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    It's not hard to see by some of the left-wing phraseology used that many are against this simply because it comes from the Conservatives/Coalition. You can bet that they would be doing the oppositie if Ed Milliband suggested it.

    I reckon it's a sensible idea - many new parents live far away from their own families (social mobility etc.) and can't get advice and support easily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    "287. Whistling Neil
    Cameron didn't really hold Wife Swap up as an example of good parenting information did he?"
    You mean the influence of someone unable to master the English language properly? Yes, he did...
    But here's the thing: If you had a good set of parents, and you need help or advice - ASK THEM TO HELP! If you dont, think of an older family member you DO trust! Cost? 20p call..

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    I can see a lot of misconception on this forum about what people thinks make a good/bad parent. Whether you can feed/bath/wind the baby or not does not make you a good/bad parent...

    But any parent who need the help of the government to teach their kids to respect others, be good natured and be friendly is definitely not a good parent and no amount of classes can help such

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.


    You sound like a pompus individual that also has a nanny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    In school we used to have a class called "Home Economics" that would teach us lifeskills like cooking and sewing etc (both boys and girls). I don't see why we cant add in new stuff like balancing a budget, parenting etc.
    I really benefitted from the cooking classes. My own mother used to use frozen pre-packaged foods all the time and never made anything from scratch. Classes are awesome!

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    dont' think I would want any child of mine growing up with tory values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Why has the BBC opened two Comments sections on this same story (see also Mark Easton's article)?

    Goverment (not just DC) is damned if they do (nanny state) and damned if they don't (not addressing growing problem etc...).

    Most people have been going to pre-natal classes for decades: is this nanny state or just offering sensible help?

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Cameron didn't really hold Wife Swap up as an example of good parenting information did he?

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    There's so many "do's" & "don'ts" with bringing up kids now, it's no wonder that parents are confused. I relied on my mother for sound sensible advice. She had 4 kids, I've got 4, and I had a Health Visitor if I needed further advice. There will always be those who have no common sense and will need guiding. Everything in our lives now is made so complicated.........go with your instincts!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    You don't know whether you're any good at it until you have a go. Lots of parents find that out.

    Having a Father getting home on time instead of down the pub or deliberately staying late at work to avoid his fair share, really helps out the young Mum. So many bad blokes behave like that, but there are good ones as well who parent equally and properly.

    Try to marry a good one not a bad one

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Come on this is asinine. How can a government which cut the Sure Start budget introduce another expensive scheme. It'll be just like the Sure Start Book Club. My experience of that was of a queue of middle class professionals queueing for free books. The people it is targeting will not attend unless an incentive is offered like a free pizza. I'm not kidding, that's what sure start does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    254 Alastair

    If only reality actually matched your Tabloid fuelled view your comments might have been worth reading.


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