4Children launches manifesto for families

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Children’s charity 4Children is calling for a complete rethink on how the UK supports children and families.

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4Children's report calls for a family-friendly Britain

Comprehensive universal childcare from birth to 14, part time and flexible working with flexible maternity and paternity leave, and children and family centre ‘hubs’ are at the heart of a new manifesto launched at an event with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the House of Commons today.

The charity is calling for MPs and policy makers to sign up to a Family Commitment to include:

  • a family test across local and national government to ensure policies are family-friendly;
  • a major overhaul of support for vulnerable families, including early support;
  • a commitment to family friendly planning and public spaces;
  • a major house building programme of affordable and social housing;
  • local children and family centres and hubs for children from 0-19 and their families;
  • a comprehensive universal childcare guarantee from 0-14
  • part-time and flexible working to become the norm, including flexible maternity and paternity leave

A YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people commissioned by 4Children to coincide with the launch of Making Children Great for Children and Families, found that more than four in ten parents believe that services for families are not good enough.

On childcare, 67 per cent of parents say that a lack of affordable childcare is limiting their ability to work, with 24 per cent saying that more affordable and flexible childcare would male a positive difference to their family life.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents are calling for more family-friendly workplaces.

4Children’s chief executive Anne Longfield said, ‘Too many children and families are struggling in Britain today with limited potential and life chances as a result.  Family life has changed beyond recognition over the past 30 years and our services and practices have often failed to keep up. 

‘It’s time to change. We need to have a major shift in ambition if we’re going to make Britain great for families. If we want a country where families and children are valued and flourishing, then politicians and policy makers and those providing public services and running businesses all need to change the way they listen and respond to what families really want.

‘We also need, as a society, to give our children the aspiration and ability to flourish as individuals; to radically change the country’s system of support for those most in need; and to redesign our communities for Britain’s children and families of the future.

‘It’s clear from what people tell us that this country’s systems and approaches are not working for many families; and they are now demanding smart-thinking from all political parties to help make Britain a better place to bring up children.’

The charity says that billions of pounds are spent each year on managing troubled families, family breakdown, and tackling child poverty and £32,000 per family could be saved if crises were prevented.

Ms Longfield added, ‘We need a new approach, which steps into support families; with a “stitch in time” culture that focuses on avoiding problems arising rather than spending large amounts of money to patch up problems after they’ve occurred.’

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will also be speaking at the event.

Mr Clegg is expected to say, ‘I want to congratulate 4 Children on your 30th anniversary. You’ve worked tirelessly to put the needs of Britain’s families at the heart of Government.

‘Being a parent and raising a family is hard – that’s why one of my biggest priorities in Government has been to ensure that every part of our system supports families’ choices. And whenever money has become available, I’ve pushed for it to be invested in kick-starting a family friendly revolution in Britain, supporting families every step of the way.

'I look forward to working with you: to fight the corner for working families in every area of our society.’