As part of Inclusive Britain – the Government’s response to the 2021 Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities – I was asked to undertake an Independent Review into family life.
At the end of last year, I published the second and final part of my Family Review, which included a number of recommendations for how Government, Local Authorities and policymakers can better support families and children.
One of these recommendations was to make strong families an explicit and positive aim of public policy. As part of my work on the Review, I spoke to hundreds of families, who told me that they want policymakers to understand and recognise their needs when thinking about designing and creating policy that affects them. Too often, families are thought of as ‘households’ or ‘service users’ rather than as ‘children’, ‘parents’ and ‘families.’
The main framework which Government departments use to design and evaluate the impact of policies on families is the Family Test. This is a framework which policymakers use to systematically evaluate the impact of new policies on families.
I have recommended that Government develop a new Family Framework, as an update to the Family Test, which centres around the quality of children’s relationships with adults, both in their immediate and extended family networks. As well as national Government, it should also be used by local government decision makers, and all those directly delivering and commissioning services.
This would help to ensure that services themselves, as well as policies, are designed with families in mind. Fundamentally, families are best served by services that are visible, accessible and integrated within a local neighbourhood footprint.
I also want to make it easier for families to understand the services available to them right now. This could be achieved by the publication of a cross-Government family action plan which brings together existing strands of policy relating to families into a unified and cohesive vision for families, including:
- Setting out a positive vision for the role families can play in society;
- Bringing cohesion to a currently fragmented system of different policy and implementation strands and;
- Setting out the high-level outcomes Government wants to support families to achieve.
I want to support Government to enable a new focus on the power of parenting and ensure all families can access a holistic support offer within their local community. The recommendations I have set out include a series of practical changes that we can make to reform how public policy is developed and implemented to support a more effective, efficient and integrated use of resources to support families.