Priceless: “David Cameron says policies must pass ‘family test’”

I spotted this item on my BBC News app over my cornflakes this morning and its been annoying me ever since.  I generally find politicians having a go at the competing parties tedious and childish, so I try to avoid doing it myself.  But in this instance I’m afraid that this is too stupid to ignore…  According to the BBC, later today David Cameron will give a speach saying:

““All government policies will have to pass a “family test”, David Cameron is expected to say in a speech later.

He will use the speech to say parents and children are too often overlooked and can be left worse off by reforms.

From October, every new domestic policy “will be examined for its impact on the family”, the PM is expected to say.

The assessment will be carried out alongside other tests including for equality, cost-effectiveness and environmental impact, he is to say.”

Begging the question; “how were proposed policies examined in the preceding 4 years and 6 months of the current parliament before implementation of this bright new idea?” While I am glad to hear that families will now be worthy of consideration, while I sit here at lunchtime, in Dubai, with my husband at work in the UK and my toddlers at their nursery a few towers away from my office, this comes a bit late (why I’m in Dubai). I am genuinely shocked at how out of touch with the people who are suffering the consequences of their disastrous policies the incumbent government seems to be. I cannot comprehend the world Cameron lives in, with his wife and 3 children, in which this wasn’t already glaringly obvious.

     “Mr Cameron is also expected to welcome new figures suggesting a 25% rise in adoptions and announce that taxpayer funding for relationship counselling through Relate will be doubled to £19.5m.

‘Held to account’

“For someone from my political viewpoint who believes in building a stronger society from the bottom up, there is no better place to start than with family,” he is expected to say.

Families are “the bottom” of society?! They are MOST of society.  A two second web search finds figures from the office for national statistics for 2013 indicating that 29% of households have one person in, and 1% have more than one whole family in, so excluding adult house-shares (no figures available) then EVERYONE else lives in a family.

     “So I think it’s absolutely right that government should do everything possible to help support and strengthen family life in Britain today.

“I want every government department to be held to account for the impact of their policies on the family.”

He will suggest that previously family has not been central to government thinking.

“So you get a whole load of policy decisions which take no account of the family and sometimes make these things worse,” he is to say.”

A whole load of policy decisions have been implemented not taking into account their consequences? What have you been doing while we, the taxpayers, have been sliding further into debt, losing our jobs, having our homes repossessed, our benefits slashed?  …. <insert swearing>

     “Whether it’s the benefits system incentivising couples to live apart or penalising those who go out to work or whether it’s excessive bureaucracy preventing loving couples from adopting children with no family at all.

“We can’t go on having government taking decisions like this which ignore the impact on the family.

“I said previously that we would introduce a family test into government. Now that test is being formalised as part of the impact assessment for all domestic policies.

“Put simply that means every single domestic policy that government comes up with will be examined for its impact on the family.”

Troubled families

The speech comes as the government prepares to launch an extension of its programme to tackle troubled families, which was set up by Mr Cameron in the wake of the riots in London and other English cities in August 2011.

Up to 500,000 families are expected to be targeted – more than four times the number in the initial stage – with work due to begin first in the 50 local authorities where it has proved most successful.

The head of the programme, Louise Casey, said at the weekend the families concerned were “off the barometer in the number of problems they have”.

Health issues, both physical and mental, are expected to be at the forefront of the new push.”

It is not just the poorest 3% that have become significantly worse off since 2010, it is MOST people. Especially MOST FAMILIES, who make up something in excess of 60% of the UK population… Gosh, I hope no sensible people vote conservative in May 2015.

How about “all policies must pass a FAIRNESS TEST which assess their impact on all of those they will apply to – how on Earth is this not already part of the system?

<palm forehead>.


Original BBC News Article

From the office for national statistics:

  • In 2013 there were 18.2 million families in the UK. Of these, 12.3 million consisted of a married couple with or without children.
  • The number of opposite sex cohabiting couple families has increased significantly, from 2.2 million in 2003 to 2.9 million in 2013. The number of dependent children living in opposite sex cohabiting couple families rose from 1.4 million to 1.9 million over the same period.
  • There were nearly 1.9 million lone parents with dependent children in the UK in 2013, a figure which has grown steadily but not significantly from 1.8 million in 2003.
  • There were 26.4 million households in the UK in 2013. Of these, 29% consisted of only one person and 20% consisted of four or more people.
  • The fastest growing household type was households containing two or more families, increasing by 39% from 206,000 households in 2003 to 286,000 households in 2013. However multi-family households still only represent 1% of all households.

2 thoughts on “Priceless: “David Cameron says policies must pass ‘family test’”

  1. As you say it would be very surprisingly if an impact analysis wasn’t already conducted on policy changes in any area of government activity ( I am pretty sure that’s the precise role of the civil service in fact is to point out to government the impact of policy and work up practicable implementation of legislation).

    This is political posturing I am certain. We approach the 2015 GE and Cameron will have been told he lacks credibility with women and needs to work on his image as a defender of the nuclear family. This is part of a political drive to make sure us the electorate “gets” that he cares. It doesn’t matter if what he says is a mishmash of previously announced policy and obvious truisms what matters in his world is that he is choosing to talk about this rather than something else.


    • Thanks Shaw, In Ed Straw’s book “Stand and Deliver” he explains that a major reason why governments in general, and the UK in particular, fail to deliver on their policy intentions is that there is only haphazard or non-existent impact analysis beforehand and the same applies to checking on results. The analogy goes something like “the seeds are sown and some water added, then nobody comes back to check if anything grew, let alone was harvested”. Luckily the book also has some sensible suggestions for improving this situation.


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