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Should politicians focus on family policies?

08:51 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Labour warn children will suffer from rival parties' cuts, as parties focus on the family, and what the Tories call the "broken society". What family policies would you like to see?

Labour say their rivals' plans amount to a "coalition of cuts for children" and say they will attack Lib Dem plans to axe child trust funds and Tory proposals to scale back child tax credits.

The Conservatives say their manifesto is the most family-friendly ever produced by a British party, and will focus their policy among other things on family breakdown.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems will focus on the challenges facing the NHS as Nick Clegg addresses the Royal College of Nursing's annual conference on Tuesday.

What are the most important family policies to you? What changes need to be made to family policies? Is family policy high enough on the political agenda?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Yes! Toddler top-up fees are a scandal. Shame on you the Conservatives!

  • Comment number 2.

    Can't they just focus on all members of the public and not just families with children?

  • Comment number 3.

    Exactly what is a family? How do you define it? Is is 2.4 children with a male and female biological parent, with four biological grandparents? What a load of nonesense! Leave people alone and let them define their own families.

  • Comment number 4.

    Usually I am the first to get all riled up about families appearing to matter more to the government than people without children. But in this case, I can't be bothered to dig up my usual annoyance.

    Labour's 'warning' just reminds me of all the episodes of South Park where at some completely inappropriate moment in an unrelated discussion a woman would screech 'won't someone please think of the children!!'

    It's just another attempt by Labour to draw attention away from their shambolic campaign by trying to distract people with the usual buzzword issues.

  • Comment number 5.

    Cameron is pushing bigotted and unfair policies. I had a mum and dad family and i have been left with serious mental health issues due to a dreadful father. My nephew, from a single nother, is now a Doctor of Particle Physics. Should my father have benefitted from staying with my mother and ruining his children's life? Should my sister be punished for being single and yet bringing up a wonderful son?
    What about families where one parent dies or chooses to leave or is violent and has to leave? Should those people be given less money through no fault of their own?
    People will always be part of a family, of one description or another, and they have a right to equal chances of a good life and not have their ways looked at as "less than" other families just because they are different from David Cameron's idea of a "perfect family"

  • Comment number 6.

    All the money spent on so called family policies would be better spent on a decent fee free education system and ways of creating work for young people. If people want to have children they should realise that it costs money and should not rely on handouts from the Govt.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well if they don't focus on family policies who exactly are they working for? (Besides themselves)

  • Comment number 8.

    Politicians should focus on reducing government costs. The knock on impact of that would be that we would have more money in our pockets to pay for the things that we need.

    The current situation is that the government forget that its our money, instead thinking that its their's and spend it on things that they think that we want.

  • Comment number 9.

    The family policy I would like to see is everyone being able to afford a home, with rent resrictions in place to protect tenants from greedy landlords, and short-hold tenancies made illegal.

  • Comment number 10.

    "That old chestnut again "Family values" your useless policys did not work last time? Cutting Child credits wont' help any familys in the U.K. or stop Child poverty .Shame on you Mr Cameron and the Conservative party . Family life its not broken, only on some sink estates ,but many familys been put under pressure by high costs' and low wages, and lack of proper jobs for young people 18-26 in many parts of the U.K.

  • Comment number 11.

    Focussing on the family and the young has alienated 50% of voters: one third of the population are single and a significant number are over 25.

    Scaremongering from NuLabour is just seen as an extention of their previous history of lying - which in my book is a criminal offence.

    Wake up Westminster.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would like to see the next government focus on those of us who don't have children. We have been ignored, penalised and vilified by successive governments simply because we choose not to contribute to the over-population of the planet. Surely it's time we got a break?

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't know.

    But I do wonder if, for every voter won over by 'family friendly' policies, they manage to alienate a singleton.

    Still, its pretty negative stuff from Labour & the Conservatives, attacking each others policies is not the same thing as explaining your own.

    What with this and the Conservatives hung parliament scaremongering (complete with scary noose motif)the campaigning seems to be taking a rather unpleasant turn.

    The Lib Dems are doing well to steer clear of such antics.

  • Comment number 14.

    No of course not. Not all of us have families. I'm a single 22 year old man, why would I give a damn about toddler top up fees or "Broken Britain" (it's not broken, remember crime is falling, and if it was broken then who broke it? oh thats right, they did!)?

    What I want to hear about it what each party plans to do about our truly awful approach to drugs which I believe is one of the biggest issues facing the country. How can we continue to justify pumping billions and billions of £s into a policy that has produce the opposite results it was intended to reduce? How can we continue to justify criminalising people who make one life choice, but not people who make an almost identical life choice (to use tobacco/alcohol/caffeine/taurine/prescription drugs etc.)?

    And despite the issue of our drugs legislation being in the news quite a bit over the past 6 months, mostly because of how awful the system is, I haven't heard a peep out of the politicians about how they're going to reform it.

    Because they're not.

  • Comment number 15.

    2. At 11:35am on 27 Apr 2010, Rufus McDufus wrote:
    Can't they just focus on all members of the public and not just families with children?

    I'm afraid that the short answer is "no". And if you're single with no kids then politicians, and society in general, treats you as a second class citizen.

  • Comment number 16.

    They can focus on whatever they want to cause it never makes a damn bit of diffrence when they do anyway and shortly there all going to be swept away with collapse and destruction lose those who are corrupt and speaking lies and deception.Gods people are vindicated at the end.So carry on talking cause thats all they do, speak into the air and argue and debate and get confused over whats right and whats wrong, and guess why?????

  • Comment number 17.

    Don't these dim politicians ever realize that there is a huge majority of voters out here who are sick to death of hearing nothing but "poor families" from their political ramblings.Is it not time that those who wish to expand the human race stood,at least,for a little of it's costs and not be pampered and bailed out by the British tax payer all the time.
    So no,family politics comes very,very low on my list of priorities.

  • Comment number 18.

    As a child-free person, all that I expect when I hear politicians drivelling on about "hard-working families" is that I will be paying yet more taxes to fund feckless and irresponsible breeders. It's a total vote-loser for me and my partner (in a three-way marginal seat).

  • Comment number 19.

    They should keep out of families altogether. Such private matters are exactly that - private, and shouldn't be any of the government's business.

  • Comment number 20.

    Politians have little understanding of 'family values' in any case so they shouldn't bother with something they have absolutely no concept of.

  • Comment number 21.

    Obviosuly, these parties can't go around saying we must limit child benefit etc, as they won't get any votes. Instead they have to bribe "families" with as many hand outs as possible.

    What about everyone that doesn't have or doesn't want children?

    These handouts are emptying the coffers of this government, and maternity (and the proposed paternity) will lead to even more abuse of the system for those haves and those have nots. Why should I have to cover for someone that is on to their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th child in as many years?

    I'm classified as in poverty in comparison to the hand outs all these families receive every week/month/year.

  • Comment number 22.

    Things to remember on behalf of your family: a starter
    1. Tactical voting, especially voting Lib Dem if you're really a Labour voter gets the Tories elected.
    2. You may want to punish Labour for the Iraq war, but don't punish yourself by electing Cameron and Clegg.
    3. Do you really want Cameron and Osborne cutting their way through child support services?
    4. If you are a Labour voter who wants electoral reform, you'll only get it by voting Labour.
    5. Vote. A lot of people died for your right to do so.

    I'm sure you can all add your own to this list

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree with #2 & #3. Politicians (and policies) need to be inclusive and for ALL the population. Not just defined groups.

  • Comment number 24.

    They need to start with those parents who can't be bothered to work and using 'having a baby' as an excuse not to work. Children seem to be pawns in very huge 'life' game. Family issues are not issues to those who actually have children for love, not just benefits.

    I am sick of seeing slips of girls pushing buggies round, several kids (different fathers to all) hanging on, foul mouthed language being used towards the children, the child mother flashing all 25 tattoos (amongst other things)not contributed one penny into the system and dripping in gold, designer clothes and shoes. I will vote for whoever can change the way of the gymslip mums

  • Comment number 25.

    If Lord Mandleson thinks he helped Labour with his Question and NO answer session with the press on Wednesday morning he better think again.

    He was a prime example of the obnoxious, evasive and dishonest personas that we are all fed up to the back teeth with.
    If I had been one of the reporters asking questions I would have found it difficult not to get up and walk out in frustration with his refusal to give a straight answer.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm sick of politicians using the phrase "hard-working families" - what does it mean? That people outside of stereotypical family units are NOT hard-working? Are the children in these families also holding down jobs and paying taxes, then?
    I wish some of the focus would shift to "hard-working singletons" or "hard-working child-free". After all, we're the ones helping bankroll child benefits and covering maternity/paternity leave, plus working all the hours parents don't fancy!

  • Comment number 27.

    I see Peppa Pig has moved away from Labour. Apparently it was all those muddy puddles. Caused my Labour muddying the water with their fear tactic that just in the end was too much for Peppa.

    George (Peppa's brother) was quoted as saying that Gordon Brown reminded him of a "Dinosaur" but then again he could just have been saying that as "Dinosaur" is the only thing he ever says.

  • Comment number 28.

    Only if they mean to carry such policies through and they are meaningful.

    Message to Cameron

    £130/yr Wedding reward is meaningless. Better to enable Married couples share their allowance if one is not working.

    Bye the way I'm too busy working to volunteer for the "Big Society" if some othose on benefit had to volunteer that would be a step in the right direction. My salary is taxed and now Government wants my time? Joker.

    Message to Brown

    If you want to make nursery school places free do it - I still have to pay as government only part funds my childrens places. So dont lie when you say the Tories will tax toddlers - you do it already.

    Message to Clegg

    Dont pretend that ending tuition fees in 6yrs time is a big deal it is "Jam tomorrow" better we abandon A-Levels and move all schools to the I Bac so once and for all qualifications are freed of government bungling.

    For all politicians stay out of the family unless you are serious and prepared to put money where your mouths are for the long term. Be real; end non means tested child benefit for the first child and use the money to pay off the deficit not pay yourselves.

  • Comment number 29.

    Why is everyone expecting me to pay for their children? If you can't afford children don't have them. That is how it work in the rest of the world

  • Comment number 30.

    No, why should families get more benefits we all pay in we should all get the same benefits. IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD CHILDREN DON'T HAVE THEM why should I as a tax payer pay for your kids child care, give them a saving account, pay parents tax credits. I rather see pensioners get a better deal, I'd also like to see all holiday patients going to the NHS pay for there treatment. If you come to this country you should get no benefits until you have paid into the system for a minimum f 10 years 20 would be better.

  • Comment number 31.

    I never understand why people with kids expect *everyone* to pay for their education and their healthcare. People with kids take more than their fair share and pay *less* tax and get lots of handouts compared with people who don't have any children.
    That can't be fair surely?

  • Comment number 32.

    Top-up fees are not a scandal at all. The current financing of nurseries is ridiculous. They are told by the government what they can charge, which therefore filters through to how much money a nursery can make and in turn how much they can pay their staff.

    Since that is never going to be high (as you need x-many staff per child) you inevitably will not get those with the best skills working in childcare - as childcare does not pay! ..and hence why competition is so high for lower primary PGCE courses!

    Early years education is vital for child development, but the funding for excellence in teaching simply isn't there.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't see Gordon Brown's statement of free places for nursery education as being a good thing.

    Forget for a minute that we are annually sliding down the European league table for delivery of education and that it has been proved that starting a formal education at age 7 is better for a child than starting them earlier, and please focus on the actual family.

    We are now actively encouraged by our government to get rid of our children as early as possible. They are dumped with child-minders, dragged to playgroups and then educated in Nurseries - and all of this before going to a formal school at age 5, where they continue in education until 16, 18, or possibly even 22 before signing onto the benefit line. And throughout all this time we are not encouraged to engage with them as children. We are not supposed to let them enjoy a childhood but to instead prepare them for our failing schools and society.

    If Labour really wanted to ghelp families and to educate our children properly - in all aspects of life as a holistic solution, and not just academia - then he would organise to help at least one parent to stay with their child, to have the mindset of caring for their family instead of grasping at cash to fund their consumer lifestyle. Don't get me wrong - the others have no solutions yet - but GB is the one who's lambasting them as if he knows better. Until children have a proper home life with parents they will continue to grow into the young adults we complain about today.

  • Comment number 34.

    Absolutely not. Successive governments have been throwing money at people with kids for decades - paid for by those of us who realise that kids aren't free, and so only have as many as we can afford to raise.

    Every time a politician uses the word "family" I know that what they really mean is that they're going to discriminate against single people and childless couples.

  • Comment number 35.

    Yes Brown should explain why he has passed so much goverment debt onto the younger population to pay off in taxes?

  • Comment number 36.

    'Should politicians focus on family policies'?

    Rather tragic that Labour are 'shroud-waving' about children and 'perceived' cuts by other political parties? Our children are grown - both work and have families of their own.

    What was shocking recently is that we compared our old tax coding, when they were small, with theirs and ours today? We all pay more income tax and more indirect tax? But, there are new and better school and hospitals.

    It's confusing - but our whole family agree a consensus - baby bonds are wasteful - put that money into decent social services, better training for social workers = better protection for all children of all ages!

  • Comment number 37.

    Financial assistance to families should be strictly means-tested, and go only to the parents who need it most. Billions of taxpayers' pounds are spent unnecessarily on benefits to middle-class mothers, who simply don't really need the extra cash.

    One such family I know put aside their £46 per week Child Benefit, to use as spending money on the annual family holiday. It's crazy, that people should be allowed to use my taxes in this way.

  • Comment number 38.

    All I seem to read these past few days is New Labour's negative comments. (Just like old Labour). What is New Labour's definition of a family? Single mum, anyone who is trying to enter this country illegally? It certainly isn't mum dad and the bairns. They have been ignored all down to New Labour's social engineering policy these past few years. Gordon, a negative campaign won't win the election.

  • Comment number 39.

    Would all those seeking to be hired to run the country start telling us what THEY will do rather than bad-mouthing every other candidate's ideas.

    As for what I want, some fairness, please - a complete revamp of a complex and unjust taxation system. It ought to be 'from everyone according to their means, and to everyone according to their needs' with some responsible stewardship of that part of our money entrusted to government to enable it to meet its obligations.

    Anyone would think that tax money belonged to politicians, the way they talk. It doesn't - it's OURS. They are merely hired to administer it responsibly on our behalf to the benefit of all citizens.

  • Comment number 40.

    I genuinely think that family policy is the most important issue in this election as well as one that is very much overlooked.

    The right family policy would support the poorest families to ensure that almost no children live in poverty.

    If no children live in poverty they do not become disillusioned by the system or their living environment.

    If they are not disillusioned by life they are less likely to become indoctrinated within a culture of crime and drugs

    If they are not into crime and drugs they perform well within the education system.

    If they perform well within the education system they become top professionals.

    If they become top professionals they contribute higher levels of tax to the state system.

    If they can afford higher levels of tax, they can provide their own pension rather than relying on state funding.

    They also have children who are not born into poverty.

    What I've described there is a very simplified process but one that I think stands. Is it any wonder that people who live in poorer areas are more likely to be attracted to crime whilst people in more affluent areas have better jobs. It also shows how a family policy ties in with economy, education, jobs and pensions and crime.

    For me a strong family policy can underpin any election campaign but its just a pity none of these parties offers one. We are supposed to be having the most important election in decades yet all I see are politicians telling me what I find important (the economy) and getting into petty party squabbling rather than providing a genuine ideology for society.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think as a nation we've had just about enough of the loose living and promiscuity and the labour party throwing money at it. A family with two parents bringing up their children in a loving home and stable environment is the core of a stable society. One of the most notable changes since I was a child is the lack of respect from the children of today (not all, some excellent parents but declining in number). Language is a way of showing respect or not, we all know about the F word, people at one time, not just children, didn't use it in front of the elderly, women or children because they had respect for them. What have we had in the last decade or so, the labour party throwing money at all and sundry to have babies. I see some of the products of that policy in a town close to me. Women in the town centre forming a wagon train of prams, smoking, uttering obscenities, obese and I'm saying to myself, what chance have the children in those prams got. And it's not just a few here and there, go in to any town centre and you'll see the same. There are three main things that children should be taught by their parents, respect, discipline and values, children who's parents (or parent ) is missing for most of the day don't get that training, they're usually out fending for themselves mixing with all the wrong sort of people. The labour party have made it too easy for those people that think the state owes them a living, by throwing money at them. Having babies whatever their circumstances has bred an under class. For them no point in working and providing for the children, the state will give them all the hand-outs they want, to those that work to provide for their children it is an unforgiveable insult.

  • Comment number 42.

    Is David Cameron taking the ‘Life on Mars’ theme too far?
    He seems to be re writing the 1980’s now, he was connected to the Thatcher and Major governments.
    • Has he forgotten that Thatcher said ‘there is no such thing as society.
    • Tebbit said ‘get on your bike’?
    • Has he forgotten the Toxteth riots? Brought about because of the policies of his government?
    • Has he forgotten that the poll tax which forced teenagers out of their homes because their parents could not afford the tax. This led to the ‘seaside’ occupation of former guest houses and hotels by those teenagers whom could not afford to work so they lived on benefits.
    • Does he realise these same people are the parents of what he calls the ‘broken society’?
    • Finally does he realise that he is insulting the vast majority of ordinary families who do care and do help others has he not seen the turn out week in week out of those in Wootton Basset? Is that not society at its best?

  • Comment number 43.

    I am strongly in favour of Child Benefit being means tested..this should not be given to families who obviously do not need the money every week e.g lawyers.consultants and many more.
    It should be for families who are struggling the most.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm surprised that the Tories' plan to allow nursery top up fees isn't getting more coverage. My wife, who previously supported the Conservatives, is calling it a Toddler Tax. Good name...I think it might catch on.

  • Comment number 45.

    I have a wife and two intelligent, well behaved, funny children.

    The government had nothing to do with any of that.

    Where do they come in?

  • Comment number 46.

    How about just a person-friendly policy? TO be honest I'm sick of this gimmick of supporting "good wholesome families". You cannot bribe people to behave better. You cannot shape society by bunging them a few extra quid.

    I don't have children and I don't see why I should support other people's. Furthermore I believe that child benefit should be scrapped. If you can afford them, then have them, but do not expect to be subsidised. For those who don't realise, child benefit was only introduced after WWII, to help rebuild war-torn Britian. I think we've safely passed that stage now.

    There are too many people about as it is. It's irresponsible to encourage the creation of more.

  • Comment number 47.

    I am sick to death of being made to pay for other people's children, both in money and in my time. People who have children must be made to accept the responsibilities and lifestyle limitations that go with their decisions. I am seriously considering not voting for Cameron because of his obsession with familes and with social engineering to try to encourage marriage.

  • Comment number 48.

    The politicians should focus on family policies. "Family" should be an inclusive term and all types of family should have equal status. Unfortunately, the Conservatives want to prioritise families with married parents. They don't seem to value other types of families, although if they prioritise married families, they will also have to prioritise civil partnership families due to equality legislation. However, it appears that we may ideally need legislation to outlaw discrimation against single parents and unmarried parents, and some gay parents. Single parents are often blamed for a multitude of social ills, which is totally unfair. Single parents are often very good parents, and married, heterosexual parents can sometimes be very bad parents. I am a single parent of 3 children. My well-behaved, well-balanced son, aged 10,who has grown up without a father, has been acting as a kind of mentor to 2 "naughty" 8 year old boys, both of whom have married middle-class parents, at his school.

  • Comment number 49.


    Its not the job of politicians to try and fix families.

    Politicians should also remember that there is a large proportion of the electorate who are single and do not have kids, enough to swing the election

    Perhaps we need a political party to represent the interests of single and childless

  • Comment number 50.

    Being a hard working single male I'm taxed more than every other demographic (along with the ladies in the same situation of course). Why is it they ALWAYS concentrate on families. Do they not realise the vast voter potential they continue to alienate by taking from our pockets to give to "families".

    If you want children but cannot afford it, don't have children!

  • Comment number 51.

    At the moment the politics of family offered by the three main parties are all geared to procreation. I would like to see couples who cannot have children or will not have children by choice recognised more for our contribution to society. Both partners are more likely to work, for example, paying into the tax system for longer because of no maternity/paternity leave and no chance of one person staying at home permanently to care for children.

    Yet we DINKY's (Dual Income No Kids Yet) or even of course DINKE's (Dual Income No Kids Ever) are hammered the most, listened to the least, and blamed in high proportion for everything from using a "rat run" to get to work to the horrendous 'crime' of flying for business - even though we are trying to better ourselves (the more we earn the more UK Government PLC makes out of us) rather than sit at home claiming for everything.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm 26, single and (happily) childfree.

    While usually I would be the first to get annoyed by politicians, seemingly family orientated, one-track minds the impact of the current 'rights over responsibility' mentality for parents and children is affecting everyone.

    If a child commits a crime (everyday occurrence for some) and neither they nor their parent is punished for it what does that teach them and how much of my taxpayers money is spent on/given to these utter failed families?
    (I use the word failed with some hesitance – I don’t mean ever family whereby a child commits a crime I’m talking about the families known to the police where all/most of the children are regularly arrested with seemingly no action taken as a result)

    (I refuse to say Broken Britain but my resolve is weakening)

  • Comment number 53.

    Trust Funds were always a BAD IDEA, the product of short-term attitudes that were counterproductive over the long term. The Trust Funds never had cross-party support, which was essential if they were to be successful. Like so much during the scandalous New Labour hold on the people of this country, it was another expensive sound bite, another daft gimmick.

    Unless there is cross-party co-operation, welfare reform of any sort must be put on hold. We don't want here today, gone tomorrow politicians making expensive decisions lasting generations without ensuring that the policy is an agreed one.

  • Comment number 54.

    1. At 11:15am on 27 Apr 2010, Mark - Hove wrote:
    Yes! Toddler top-up fees are a scandal. Shame on you the Conservatives!
    Really? If you cannot afford children DONT have them!!! Labour's social meddling has created a system where by poeple use children as meal tickets, becuase they'll just get more handouts for evey one they can deliver.
    Why should responsible young adults or those who choose not to have children have to fund other peoples decisions. Child Tax Credits etc should just be stopped full-stop. You watch the birth rate just drop!!

  • Comment number 55.

    None of the above.

    Family Policies matter, not because of the Opinion of the public or the need of Politicians to make policy on the subject, but because it is an area that appeals to Journalists. Appeal to the Journo and the politician will get the publicity they need, good or bad.

    It will trigger the ability for commentators to ask all sorts of campaign groups to agree or disagree and then create column inches making the Family Policy newsworthy.

    It's a contentious subject and that makes debate.

  • Comment number 56.

    How about focusing on running the country instead and let families look after themselves.

  • Comment number 57.

    Labour has brought about a huge increase in poverty in this country. Putting people on benefits and making them so reliant that they remain in the fringes of society with just modicum of money and no prospects for imrpoving their life or lot.

    Labour mistake this for progress, when it trap people in a subculure, usally domnated by near poverty, crime, antisocial behaviour, drink and drugs and awful housing.

  • Comment number 58.

    Jeez NuLab must be desperate. But if they think that just the mere mention of 'the children' will cause us all to go all gooey, all politicians should think on this; half of 'the children' wouldn't be here to be worried about if the child benefit system was properly thought out.

  • Comment number 59.

    The big question is "Where are they going to get the money from" to focus on all Brit Citizens or just families?
    No cuts in overseas spending, no reductions in our armed forces abroad, no stopping immigration and support for their families abroad!
    We have heard too much of cutting public services, NHS, road funding so lets get our heads on here and vote for the party whom will at least give a picture of what they will do for the Brits!
    Sorry I will be voting for the BNP not the "fairness for all" false hype

  • Comment number 60.

    The idea of Labour "focusing on family" sends shivers down my spine.

    They already want to keep details of every child in the country on a database in order to be able to control upbringing of every child (incidentally making it so that any crook in the world could buy these children's personal details on the internet).

    They already exploit child abuse to justify creation of thought crimes.

    What next? Parenting licence (only for those supporting the "correct" political parties perhaps)? CCTV cameras in every household?

  • Comment number 61.

    I am pleased to hear about some of the help New Labour will offer families with young children because many people on low incomes do struggle with the costs of childcare as do people on middle incomes. My concern with these initiatives however, is that nurersy places in schools do not help parents who work full time. Also private run day nurseries are incredibly expensive, on average more than £75 a week in London and the South East, prohibitively expensive if you have more than one child of nusery age.

    What is missing from this election campaign are clear and coherent policies for helping all low paid people in work and vulnerable people not in work. Raising the minimum wage from what it is currently would help the low paid. Removing the different levels of the minimum wage so there is one minimum wage for everyone of legal working age would help with poverty. This would help families who don't necessarily have school age children but are still supporting young adults, sick parents or disabled family members.

    Poverty is experienced by many people in paid work with or without children but with caring responsibilities for elderly parents or disabled siblings. The commitment from all the main parties to keeping care located in the home, family and community means that the structural inequalities that exist in terms of access to affordable housing and services that would make a big difference in meeting the needs of vulnerable people have not been addressed properly in any debate. This is where I am deeply suspicious of Cameron's big society because for me this means more about individual responsibility without the backing from the services that should be provided by national as well as local government.

    I do think it is important we get our society into some kind of perspective. Cameron keeps saying our society is broken and he has the backing of Brooke Kinsella on this. I don't think that is true. We have problems but we also have lots of good going on in our society. I work for the local branch of a trade union and I see at first hand the struggles our members have to ensure they meet the responsibilities of work and home more often or not doing more than one job because they are in low paid but essential work. The vast majority do this with a courage and grace that is beyond belief especially when they are working under pressure at work as well as at home.

    Our young people are far more decent and hardworking than we are lead to believe thanks largely to the press and the way young people are reported. If the recent British Crime Survery is to be believed crime is not rising and we fear crime more than we experience it.

    According to Cameron and Kinsella our streets are not safe. This is not true. Knife crime is important however, up to four women a week are injured or killed by their partners more often or not in their homes. Children are more likely to die at the hands of people most responsible for caring for them than by strangers on the street. One thing we don't have is a clear policy and strategy for dealing with domestic violence and the negative impact this has on families. Violence in the family and the home is a significant contributor to societal violence, not knife crime. The press always makes knife crime an issue - the coverage it receives makes it seem far more wide spread than it actually is.

    Also we do not have a proper national strategy for helping and supporting people with alcohol and drug addiction and a strategy for supporting families who cope pretty much alone with such family members. During this election campaign I have heard very little from any of the parties on how they would effectively tackle these problems that can fuel crime, violence at home and in the streets. These issues cannot be successfully tackled without "big government" having coherent policies and strategies to support families and communities who want to or are addressing these problems.

    I hope whoever wins this election will take these issues more seriously.

  • Comment number 62.

    My husband and I both work full time to support our daughter. The only help we claim is some tax benefit from paying our childcare costs direct from our salaries. As we need this to be able to work full time, and the taxpayer benefits overall from us working, we think this is an essential "business" expense, and would hope that no future Government would undermine this. Proper tax breaks for childcare are an important element in making it worthwhile for people with children to work. I suspect that there is an issue with some people making it a career choice to live on benefits and have children instead of working. Some even go on to have very large families at the tax payers expense. Wouldn't it be worth Goverment looking at only providing benefit support for the first two children to help discourage this?

  • Comment number 63.

    "22. At 12:00pm on 27 Apr 2010, Trevor Habeshaw wrote:
    Things to remember on behalf of your family: a starter"

    "1. Tactical voting, especially voting Lib Dem if you're really a Labour voter gets the Tories elected."

    I loathe the Tories almost as much as I loathe Labour, however the Tories don't have Harriet Harman on their ranks. I never wish to see that sexist, out-of-touch bigot in charge of ANYTHING again.

    "2. You may want to punish Labour for the Iraq war, but don't punish yourself by electing Cameron and Clegg."

    That's the same sort of arrogance that annoys me about ALL politicians. I'LL decide whether it is a 'punishment' or not. And note, I consider it to be a punishment when I am marginalised and have my freedoms stripped one by one by a nanny state, that treats its electorate with contempt and lies. A nanny state that makes major policy decisions, against the best advice of scientists, by consulting that vanguard of moral responsibility - The Daily Mail.

    "3. Do you really want Cameron and Osborne cutting their way through child support services?"

    I couldn't care less. I don't have children. LOTS OF VOTERS ARE LIKE ME. It would be NICE if the government stopped ENCOURAGING people from having children by offering less incentives to do so. Then it would cost us LESS in benefits, surely?

    "4. If you are a Labour voter who wants electoral reform, you'll only get it by voting Labour."

    I'm not a Labour voter. I never will be again. EVER.

    "5. Vote. A lot of people died for your right to do so."

    Oh, I will vote. Don't worry.

  • Comment number 64.

    The usual tory claptrap coming out again.

    Do they not realise that families come in all shapes and sizes in the 21st century and they ALL need to be catered for.

    And as far as "big society" is concerned, it was margret "there is no such thing as society" thatcher who destroyed society and it is Labour who is rebuilding it.

    So if we want to keep society it is Labour who we will be voting for.

  • Comment number 65.

    The Labour Party is again shamelessly indulging itself in scaremongering by accusing the Conservatives of planning to cut the child tax credits. But they are deliberately leaving out the fact the proposed plan is merely to scale it back for those who earn £50 000 or more.

    Shame on you labour, tell it the way it is for a change!

  • Comment number 66.

    On the day John Prescott - LABOUR - gave up his grace and favour home following his 'little misdemeanour' a young girl who lived on an inner city estate in London was interviewed by the BBC regarding the knife amnesty and tougher knife laws. That wee girl said that tougher sentences weren't a deterent because kids who live on inner city estates arn't freightened of going to prison as it was a better alternative to their life on the estate. They were fed and looked after better in prison than on their Estate! THIS is Britain today under Labour and they USED to be the party of the working class and the neady - I don't think so somehow. They ought to be shamed of themselves at the state of Britain today. Blair and Brown have done far more to break down our society than Margaret Thatcher ever did.

  • Comment number 67.

    I don't have any children and don't want them, but what I do want a fair system for all, not just 'breeders'.

    Stop making (through the tax system) having multiple children a job for life. We can all see families with multiple children, just popping them out, one after another to save the mother (and father) from ever having to get a proper job!

    Do they not appreciate that childless adults also vote and pay taxes?

  • Comment number 68.

    I believe that family is the cornerstone of our society and many of the problems experienced in the UK are as a result of many years of various governments introducing laws or policies that have undermined the family.

    Morality is also an ethic worth encouraging - not rewarding people with free homes/satellite TV etc whilst the working majority just get taxed to bits and feel like walking tax machines for the anti-social, immoral, drunken minority.

    I do not trust this political caste, who will say anything to remain or gain power.

  • Comment number 69.

    10. At 11:49am on 27 Apr 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    Cutting Child credits wont' help any familys in the U.K. or stop Child poverty"

    Actually, if you step back, you'll realise that it can. In a similar way that cutting unemployment benefit can help the unemployed.

    If you cut child benefits, then you get several gains:
    - people are less likely to 'milk' the system by having children they cannot afford
    - less taxation will increase employment, and the take-home pay of all employed people. This helps any family with employed parents.

    If you take your argument that "cutting child benefits won't help any families" further, then it follows that increasing child benefits WILL help all families - so let's increase child benefit to £200 per week, and see how many people that benefits.
    Rather than helping people, that will drive taxation up to unsustainable levels, causing unemployment, and people's pay packets will shrink even more, and everyone will lose out - including families.

    Yes, you have to protect vulnerable children, but the answer may not be just to throw more money at the parents, to let them buy more booze, fags and big TVs. There are other options, such as taking cetain *families* 'into care' - which may cost a bit more in the short term, but have considerably higher benefits for everyone involved.

  • Comment number 70.

    The only families that Labour has helped over 13 years are those comprising an unmarried teenage mother and one or more children.

    They have been given free accommodation, every benefit under the sun, these girls have no intention of ever working and their children will grow up believing everything comes for free.

    The genuine family with two parents whether married or not, single mothers or fathers who are single for a good reason have not exactly been treated so benevolently.

    So many children have been badly let down, some have died horrible deaths even though the authorities have been involved.

    Today we read that a 14 year old girl has been charged with murder, these cases are becoming the norm, do these child criminals have any family values?

    Someone has written that government should stay out of what families do, fine, but are you proposing that families that are incapable of caring for their children should not be monitered for the sake of those children?

    Family values are important, good values ensure that children grow into responsible adults and whether or not they choose to have children of their own is immaterial.

  • Comment number 71.

    Don't have children if you cannot afford to bring them up yourselves. I am married with children and have recently stopped working we have less money but a much better quality of life for my kids. One is sitting GCSEs and I am around more to make sure he rests, eats well I have more time to discuss issues with them, no rushing in the morning, home life is more relaxed though we can no longer afford luxuries. Why should single people without kids have to pay for my kids? I am (was)a Labour voter since uni but am angry at the emphasis Labour have put on'helping' women go back out to work after kids. I don't believe putting your career/material gain is good for our society or giving handouts to encourage more kids is good either. Perhaps encourage couples to save for career breaks? Tax incentives? If govts wish to help/give out money to pay for child care then also help women who wish to bring up their own kids.I don't know the answer but we know we are becoming more materialistic/selfish encouraged by our media/advertising companies.Some of the most unpleasant,screwed up and selfish kids I know are the ones 'neglected' by their career parents. What kind of future society are we creating - one where families are reliant on govt hand outs?

  • Comment number 72.

    Do I want to see an end to feral youth, gym-slip mothers, drug addicted fathers, spongers and drunks? Of course I do and if I thought any party could appropriately address these problems they would get my vote.
    In my opinion British family values have been eroded over the years by a systematic negation of the word 'responsibility'.
    The offenders have been led to believe that the state owes them just for being born. Parents hand down this 'gimmee' culture through the generations. The cycle must be broken.
    However which party will have the guts to deal with political correctness, lax benifit systems, do gooder's intervention and lack of parental control? Give the schools back the right to discipline, give the police the right to handle offenders in a manner which will deter future behaviour and put right a legal system that pats people on the head rather than teach them a lesson in decent behaviour.
    There will always be bad apples but I think that these particular apples must be dealt with before they rot the whole harvest.
    Boundaries, fairness and respect - these are forgotten in much of today's family life. We need a far better way of weeding out the truly needy from those who are plainly abusing the system.

  • Comment number 73.

    Given that over population is the biggest threat to the planet, then all child benefits should be scrapped.
    The more children you have, the more tax you should pay because you are using more of the state's/planet's resources.

  • Comment number 74.

    When will politicians realise that favouring certain groups at the expense of others loses them as many votes as it gains. I was thinking of voting Conservative but it becomes clear that I am not the sort of person they regard as worthy of their interest in that I am not married and don’t have a family.

    Not that Labour are any better - always going on about “hard working families” with the implication that those without families are not hard working. Prejudice on the basis of married or family status is as bad as any other sort of prejudice.

    Politicians of all parties regard single people as only existing to pay taxes to subsidise their favoured groups. So I have decided to do what I usually do and not vote for any of them.

  • Comment number 75.

    I agree with means testing child benefit and getting rid of the trust funds. I don't have children yet in my life, I've chosen not to so far as I don't feel I have strong enough finances to be able to afford them and thus I'm fed up of paying for other peoples.

    Can't afford kids? Sorry, don't have them!

  • Comment number 76.

    Family policies are going to be a decider for a lot of voters, especially those struggling with rising costs and static wages, so obviously the parties will focus on them.
    The change I'd like to see is the simple policy 'You have a family with children and yes, we agree it would be appropriate to provide you with some help to invest in their and our futures. But FIRST, we expect you to help yourself.'
    Children involve commitment and ongoing expense and it seems there are too many people having children who are not inclined to sign up to either.

  • Comment number 77.

    Unless me and my hamster count as a family, I'm not interested. I pay taxes too, and I'm responsible enough to realise that I am unlikely to make enough money to have children before my child bearing years are over. I don't want to be a poor single mother, so I've learned to count instead.

    On the subject of counting to 28, I wonder if there is a link between falling numeracy and increased birth rate? If so I think that might just be Labour's fault.

  • Comment number 78.

    The children are future wealth of the nation. Britain is reproducing itself just to sustain as a viable society. So, policies should be designed to nurture all children carefully,especially the most vulnerable among them. Anything to the contrary is a bad proposition, especially when the world is becoming increasingly competitive by the day.

  • Comment number 79.

    The definition of "family" has changed over the past generation. Previously it was universally understood to mean 2, 3 or possibly 4 children, with the same 2 parents who the children stayed with until they got married and left the home. Now, any combination of mother/father/boyfriend/partner/children is the norm, or at least accepted. I would allow any and all family benefits for the first two children only. Then if you want more, you support them on your own. We don't have "families" any more, only groups of people who have a connection, which may be parental, but often is not. We reap what we sow.

  • Comment number 80.

    ''Labour say their rivals' plans amount to a "coalition of cuts for children" and say they will attack Lib Dem plans to axe child trust funds and Tory proposals to scale back child tax credits''

    This is typical Labour campaigning. Always negative nothing positive.
    B&Bs governments have been the most family unfriendly since they came to power. It is not surprising that our society is broken when government policies publicly and financially punish stable families. Fire up the retro we want change and change for the better. It just goes to show that Labour is worn out with ideas, only negative comments.

  • Comment number 81.

    Lot's of singleton's on here (or evolutionary cul-de-sacs as I like to call them) and what a self absorbed lot they seem to be. I'm not surpirsed they're single. Before I get to policy let's just clarify something.

    Investment in children is an investment in the future of the country.

    National Insurance is NOT like a giant piggy bank. The money you pay in is spent on many things from the state pension to the health service. It is not stored up in some special account just for your retirement. So in 40-50 years my kids will be paying national insurance to support you lot in your retirement.

    Policy wise. Labours approach has been worse than awfull. I know countless people who like us have given up with the child tax credits entirely choosing to claim nothing. Why? because the system just doesn't work and no matter how careful you are about keeping your information up to date you'll get a letter demanding thousand of pounds overpayment back at some point.

    The child trust fund is pretty pointless as it is now worth about £50 more than it was 6 yrs ago.

    Finally if you can actually be bothered getting a job then a sure start nursery would just laugh at you "hahah you want free child care but you contribute" Our nursery cost us nearly £500pcm.

    But that pretty much sums up what Labour has given us ( and this isn't limited to todays topic the same can be said for NHS, Police, Schools etc). Hugely expoensive over managed target chasing buerocracy that doesn't work.

  • Comment number 82.

    Research has demonstrated time and time again that the best support a child can have is to be part of a family with a married mother and father. So, if this is the best support for kids, why shouldn't a Government encourage society to adopt it? If you do not agree with this model of family, are you not condoning something inferior? And all you whining singletons, guess what? I was single once and probably paid for your education with my taxes only I didn't moan so much about it. There is nothing wrong with providing the best support for kids and this is the nuclear family. The Left struggle with this but facts are facts. Even the left of centre IPPR admits as much so again I ask, why not support married families?

  • Comment number 83.

    All the 'family' stuff is a red herring. The problem the country has is that it cannot afford anything because we are losing money by the billion. Let's get back to the only important issue - how are we to increase our exports and decrease our imports. If we get that right we can argue about how to spend the profits at the next election.

  • Comment number 84.

    There is something very strange going on in the minds of Labour and their supporters. Every party has acknowledged the need for large cuts in public expenditure because of the huge fiscal drop off in this recession (worse than any other G7 country). Before the election campaign Darling even admitted they would need to be deeper cuts than anything Thatcher did. (I notice he's pretty much gone missing during the campaign - maybe too honest). Labour are now running around trying to scare everybody about cuts by the Tories. They are promising everybody who is still bothering to listen to them that the Tories will cut spending on the NHS, children, pensioners, benefits, etc. while Labour will somehow miraculously cut the deficit while not affecting anybody. As Gordon said to Nick: "Get real!". Labour will have to cut public spending the same as everybody else. They've already cut university funding by £600 million this year throwing universities into complete panic. At least the Tories are being more honest about it (although still not open enough). We should not be giving child tax credits to people who are already earning well over the average wage. We should not be using the benefits system to reward people for having children. We shouldn't be giving out universal £250 trust fund gifts. Don't have children if you can't pay for them!

    Cuts throughout the public sector are coming whoever you vote for. They are a necessary evil to reduce the huge deficit we have. Any party who denies needing to make cuts is lying. It would be great to throw more and more money at everything but the money ran out a long time ago.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm sick of hearing politicians bang on about hard-working families. What about hard working single people, or hard working couples without children? Invariably, these are the groups that will be taxed harder to pay for additional benefits for "hard working families", but who have the higher per capita living costs. Although some people are hard working single people or hard working couples without children by choice, for many its an accident of circumstance and I think they are being given a rough deal by all parties.

  • Comment number 86.

    Before I became a parent, I could never understand child benefit or tax breaks for childcare etc etc.

    Now I am a parent of 2, I can understand that any of the parties need some policies that
    1. Doesn't give hand outs irresponsibly. ie the Single Mother with 3 kids argument. We should not be a society that encourages hands outs just because you've had another child and therefore money is needed.

    2. Does "Help" make it easier for families to spend some time with their children rather than dumping them in nurseries/childminders for the first 5 years of their life.
    The reason that the childcare voucher system was introduced was to help working parents pay the ridiculous childcare fees we have in the UK.
    It's either that or make professional mothers or fathers give up work altogether.

    The answer to all of this of course is to BRING IN LINE annual salary to the cost of buying a house ratio. THIS IS THE REAL PROBLEM and exactly why families need this help in the first place.

    Get house prices in order and you might be able to encourage more part time flexible working and this family financial policy may well not be needed!

  • Comment number 87.

    Judging by what we read, many people seem to agree on the following:

    1. There aren't enough school places.
    2. Our transport networks are terribly overcrowded.
    3. Waiting lists in hospitals are still too long.
    4. There isn't enough good quality housing.
    5. There are 2.5m looking for work and this number is rising rapidly.

    Why then are the parties debating various ways in which they can use tax credits and other benefits to encourage an even higher birth rate? Surely all of the above problems will just become even worse in the coming years?

  • Comment number 88.

    Yes, families should always be a government priority. After all, aren't they the nation's future for all of us - single, married or childless?

  • Comment number 89.

    MPs are supposed to represent all people, regardless of race, gender or their marital situation.

    Taxes, benefits and perks should be means tested. Hard working single people should not be subsidising families.

  • Comment number 90.

    The truth is that our society is best served by creating conditions for stable families, where children can be brought up by two loving parents. One male and one female. That's the best case scenario. However, we should promote an inclusive mentality whereby every individual is valued whatever their family circumstances. The wrong thing is when this is taken too far and we have the perverse situation whereby 'traditional' (married) families actually feel that they are somehow disadvantaged or not to be valued for their correct decisions in life and sacrifices to sustain their family life. The biggest problem that this society faces is the breakdown of the family. How that is addressed in taxation is a complex but important matter.

  • Comment number 91.

    Labour can shout and scream all they like they've had thirteen years... they let our kids travel miles to school when there's one in the same town... and we have Labour MPs moving house and putting their kids in the best school and Brown calls that 'fair for all', come off it I do wish they would shut up and get out of number ten!

    Family policies huh, why do children run riot in our schools where's the discipline there? Look at the reaction from Labour when Cameron came out with 'Broken society', after thirteen years they ought to know the family is part of the problem.

    Its only spin and being 'uneconomical with the truth' have kept this Labour party in power (in plain English - lies)!

    Gawd, and some folks want an hung parliament nothing would ever get done can't they see.

  • Comment number 92.

    Isn't it about time the Government considered some perks for those of us who have worked and paid tax, national insurance all of our lives (in my own case - 35 years), have no children and have never claimed benefits of any kind?
    I for one would vote for the Party who was brave enough to recognise these "lost" souls!

  • Comment number 93.

    I wish people would stop tarring all parents with the same brush. There are many of us who work hard to support our children and dnt get help from the government. where both partners work so ensure their children are paid for.
    As a working mother of 2 teenagers i find that my kids have missed out on the new hand outs. we both work so dont get tax credits, the children were born too late for the baby bond and wont get the new allowance for toddlers. My children however still get lumbered with hugh tuition fees for university. so not only are we the parents working to support our hildren and other peoples through taxes our own children are left with enormous debts through wanting to better themselves.

  • Comment number 94.

    We are now actively encouraged by our government to get rid of our children as early as possible. They are dumped with child-minders, dragged to playgroups and then educated in Nurseries - and all of this before going to a formal school at age 5, where they continue in education until 16, 18, or possibly even 22 before signing onto the benefit line. And throughout all this time we are not encouraged to engage with them as children. We are not supposed to let them enjoy a childhood but to instead prepare them for our failing schools and society.


    I am a childminder and resent that statement as the parents 'dumping' them. What is wrong with a childminder anyway? We are CRB'd, first aid trained and OFSTED inspected just as the schools are and we have to do qualifications now too.

    I understand you want all children at home with their parents but these days parents have to work to keep the home going even when they would rather be at home with their little ones. Blame Labour for that one!

  • Comment number 95.

    "31. At 12:16pm on 27 Apr 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:
    I never understand why people with kids expect *everyone* to pay for their education and their healthcare."

    Just wondering who paid for your education and health care when you were a child? was it the tax payers at the time or did the goverment take out a loan that you are now re-paying?

  • Comment number 96.

    It is hard not to agree with the many comments on here from childless people asking why their taxes should go to those with children. On the other hand, that is essentially the nature of a welfare state. The healthy could equally ask why their taxes go toward the sick, those with jobs will might ask why their taxes go towards the jobless. Take these arguments to their logical conclusion and then we would only pay taxes for the services we ourselves use. To enforce this would entail countless further levels of beurocracy of the kind that is so hated among the electorate. It would also be inherently unfair. I have a 10 month old daughter with my wife, but a couple of years ago I had no intention of ever having kids. I am now glad that the taxes I paid then are supporting me now. It is not a perfect system, it is simply the least worst (and there is obviously room for improvement).

    My wife and I did not even know about the £250 voucher when we had our daughter - it was a pleasant surprise but I agree that it is frivolous for a country in our economic climate. We do claim the benefits we are entitled to, though we could probably just about survive without them as we have small savings. I work hard so that my wife can stay at home with our daughter and we certainly do not lead an extravagant lifestyle: one holiday a year (in this country), one night out together a month. I think we receive just under £140 per month from the state at present and this helps us to maintain a modest lifestyle and has meant that my wife will only need to work 1 day a week.

    Am I in the wrong or in the right?

  • Comment number 97.

    At a time when many politicians and the electorate are going apoplectic about increasing population due to immigration, why on earth do we still encourage people to have more children by providing them with monetary incentives - thereby increasing the population by default. The whole system should be turned around so that it only pays benefits to those people that cannot support their children, rather than giving parents a bonus, just because they have a child. I love my family very much, but fail to see why my brother and sister-in-law should get additional tax benefits to me, simply because they are married and have children, who they are capable of supporting. Being single, childless and in full time employment means I put far less pressure on the state, so why should I effectively be paying more?

  • Comment number 98.

    #31. At 12:16pm on 27 Apr 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:
    I never understand why people with kids expect *everyone* to pay for their education and their healthcare. People with kids take more than their fair share and pay *less* tax and get lots of handouts compared with people who don't have any children.
    That can't be fair surely?


    Absolute nonsense. Who do you think paid for your education and that of your parents, in fact everyone on here, we were all children once. Children are our future and without them there will be no more generations to grow up and be tax-payers themselves.

    If you decide not to have children think about those who would love to have them but can't conceive.

    By the way, the majority of people who have children do not expect everyone else to pay for them, it is only the minority who do that - the trouble is it is that minority who get publicised in the gutter press.

  • Comment number 99.

    Perhaps if we don't want the population to increase to 70 Million then maybe we should look at unnecessary benefits that could be said to encourage people to have more children and divert the money to education. I'm thinking particularly of child benefit and child tax credits for the well off.

  • Comment number 100.

    If the government wants to help families, it should just do the following:
    - Provide cheap quality health care
    - Provide cheap quality education
    For the rest, the government should interfere little as possible with daily lives of people. I have no problem with giving support to families in need, but too much money is wasted on the bureaucracy to regulate and maintain obscure children/family schemes.


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