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Watch: Supporting Families Post-Covid

Marriage and Family
21 October 2020
Family giving grace 0

This week, CARE was able to support MPs as they took part in a debate on supporting families and children during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

For years, CARE has highlighted through annual reports and events the ongoing bias in the tax system against one-earner couples. A number of MPs made mention of this during the debate. Especially powerful was the opening speech from Danny Kruger MP. We've included the full speech below.

Danny Kruger MP opens the debate on supporting families

Debate High­lights

Mr Kruger's contribution was not the only noteworthy speech. Here are some of the best moments from different MPs.

Miri­am Cates MP

For decades, as has been mentioned by hon. Friends, we have eaten away at family life, with a series of policies that encourage both parents into full-time work. We offer ever-increasing hours of free childcare, without recognising that, for many families, the issue is a lack of work-life balance. We have taxes and benefits that treat each adult as an isolated individual and penalise couples who live together. Those policies have weakened family life, and we must hit reset.

We need to consider the household as a single economic unit, with policies that reduce pressure on family life. We should stop viewing free or cheap childcare as the only solution to families’ problems, and look at how we can redesign the benefits system to allow parents to spend more time at home when their children are young. We need to better understand the economic, health and social benefits to society of resilient family units, putting family at the heart of our levelling-up agenda and investing in family hubs. We need to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between families and communities, because strong families build strong communities, and strong communities build a strong nation.

Covid has hit families hard, but it will not be the last crisis that families face. We must not return to the status quo, but instead find a new settlement that gives families the breathing space and capacity they need and deserve to truly flourish.
Miriam Cates MP

Andrew Selous

A third of children see their parents split up before they are 16, and 1.25 million children are exposed to conflict between their parents. Efforts to support healthy relationships between parents are vital and we know that children benefit from loving parents and strong, loving and respectful marriages and relationships as well. We pass on empathy and kindness by living it; we are not strong by putting others down, but by lifting them up. That is why the work Patrick Myers is doing at the Department for Work and Pensions is so important with his Reducing Parental Conflict programme and why the work done by the members of the Relationships Alliance—Relate, Tavistock Relationships, Marriage Care and OnePlusOne—is so vital, as is the pre-marriage course, the work of Jonathan and Andrea Taylor-Cummings and many others. Also Care for the Family is a fantastic charity that teaches so much, telling parents to stop scoring points and stop thinking the worst.
Andrew Selous MP

Fiona Bruce MP

The pandemic challenge is new, and it has exacerbated problems for many families, but many underlying challenges for families are not new—nor is my challenge to Government today, a challenge that has been made to previous Ministers and Prime Ministers. Essentially, it is this: when will we take strengthening families policy more seriously?

That sounds stark, but I will explain. After years of debate and discussions with Ministers, I am convinced that however committed an individual Minister in one Department may be to supporting families—I recognise the commitment of the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford)—unless we have co-ordinated, Cabinet-level leadership across Government, we will not get far on this issue. At present, there simply is no co-ordinated support for families.

I am not asking for a family bail-out—for billions for many different fighting funds to fix a dozen different symptoms, however serious those are. I simply ask that the Government commit fully to the bigger picture, given that they have already signed up to this, and for a Cabinet-level Minister to actively bring together cross-Government efforts to strengthen families. They could start with our commitment to championing family hubs. We need a strategic approach, not just short-term tactical solutions. We need preventive, whole-family approaches. Families need help to halt the intergenerational transmission of problems. We need a well-functioning, early help system, in which health education, family support, relationship support and other support for families are integrated and seamless, so that no child or family falls through the cracks.

At the heart of that system should be somewhere that people can connect with to get the help that they need. That should be the family hub. It might be a library or a repurposed children’s centre. Some people will simply get access to it online; but wherever and whatever it is, the family hub should be recognisable to local families. It should be a non-judgmental door open to all—a place that they can turn to whenever they need to. We all need such help from time to time. We must do this. Families need that help; it is not a nice-to-have policy. It must be a mission of Government. As we build back better, let us build families back better.
Fiona Bruce MP

Stella Creasy MP

It has become increasingly clear over the last couple of months that within the family, it is the mums that are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Before a child has even been born in this country in the last couple of months, we have had women who have gone to have scans on their own and found out their child would not live; they have had to give birth on their own and health visitors have been cancelled without anybody being told. As the hon. Member for Devizes mentioned, domestic violence has risen. Now, the evidence is before us that it is mums who are bearing the brunt of that approaching tsunami of unemployment. If, as the hon. Member says, he believes that both sides of the family should be able to work and come together as a family, I hope he will join me in calling for urgent action to tackle the reasons why it is mums who are much more likely to have been furloughed and are therefore much more likely to face redundancy. Indeed, the fantastic organisation, which I am sure he is a supporter of, Pregnant Then Screwed has seen a 450% increase in calls to their helpline during the pandemic. Little wonder.
Stella Creasy MP

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