In the survey commissioned by the Family and Childcare Trust, over 1,000 parents were asked to grade the Government from A to F (high to low) on its efforts to support families. The survey was carried out between 2 and 4 September 2015.
The research forms part of the charity’s annual Family Report Card, which it claims is the only annual assessment of how family friendly the UK is. It analyses national and local data across four different categories – financial resources, work-life balance, essential services for families and childcare, and infrastructure such as housing and childcare.
The Family Report Card has been published to coincide with Family Friendly Week, 19-25 October 2015.
The survey shows parents are most satisfied with schools and nurseries, which they awarded a C, but less satisfied with the Government’s performance on housing, wages, benefits and the NHS, all of which were rated a D grade.
The Family and Childcare Trust speculates that the extension of the free early education places may have contributed to the slightly higher score given to schools and nurseries.
Overall, parents gave the Government a D grade for family-friendly policies, down from a C the previous year. This is despite the introduction of a new Family Test by the Prime Minister David Cameron last year, which requires all Government departments to consider the impact any new laws or policies might have on families.
Alongside the report card, the Family and Childcare Trust ranked local authorities in England for how family friendly they are.
Taking 27 indicators, drawn from national statistics, the charity graded each area from 1 to 150 to come up with an overall ranking. Many of the indicators analysed, however, are outside of the control of the local authority such as those that relate to income and employment.
It ranked Bath and North East Somerset as the most family-friendly, followed by Windsor and Maidenhead, Richmond, Wokingham and Dorset.
Sandwell performed the worst, followed by Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Walsall.
Julia Margo, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said, ‘While the Government should be applauded for its ambitious plans to help families with the cost of childcare and extending parental leave to grandparents, it’s clear that many parents feel other Government policies on housing, wages and benefits are far from family friendly.
‘If this was a school report, a D grade would represent a poor result. The failure of Government to tackle soaring housing costs and the cuts to working tax credits will see the UK move backwards as a family-friendly nation, unless action is taken now.
‘We want to see the Family Test applied consistently to all major policy announcements, including decisions such as the one made to cut tax credits for working families, and extended to local areas – so parents can hold Government at all levels to account.’