Updated Dec 2014
Children & Families
Affordable, high-quality childcare is vital to support families.
the existing childcare offer should be expanded, through a combination of free and affordable hours, to guarantee a place for two, three and four-year-olds
Endorsed by Liberal Democrats, Sep 2013
High-quality childcare produces good outcomes for children later in life. The early years are crucial for their development.
Market competition is not the answer to raising standards or reducing costs in childcare. Instead, it is likely to inflate costs for parents and for the government.
State investment in high-quality services is more effective and efficient, in terms of value for taxpayers' money than increasing subsidies.
The key to higher quality in childcare is
a well-qualified workforce who are valued and regarded as professionals
existing adult-to-child ratios should be maintained for younger children
Endorsed by deputy prime minister, July 2013
However, adult-to-child ratios can be relaxed for children aged three and older.
Parental leave plays a vital role in enabling parents to share important early weeks and months of their children's lives, and to transition more smoothly between work and parenting responsibilities.
the statutory paid paternity leave period should be extended to one month, up from two weeks as it is currently
This would be available on a 'use it or lose it' basis, to enable dads to spend more time with their newborns.
Crucially, this month of paternity leave should be paid at a higher rate, rather than the lower weekly rate from day one, to reduce the financial disincentive against fathers taking paternity leave.
In addition, we propose
a bloc of paid parental leave which either parent can claim as an extension to their individual parental leave periods
Making childcare affordable and accessible is crucial for helping mothers to find and keep work when they are ready.
Priorities for affordable childcare should be lone or low-skilled mothers of very young children, to enable them to find work and so increase their family living standards, and working mothers of three- and four-year-olds, to enable them to extend their hours.
childcare should cost families approximately 10% of their disposable income
We have identified a 'motherhood penalty', a cumulative penalty on women who spend time out of the labour market.
Enabling mothers who want to work is crucial to closing the pay gap between men and women. Affordable childcare and flexible parental leave for mothers and fathers alike are essential parts of the solution.
Supporting gender equality in the workplace is about encouraging women's participation in all facets of working life. This inclusiveness is more important to the vast majority of women than seeing a few women in high positions.
There is rising concern about the sexual activities and relationships of young people. Our research has shown that with the rapid expansion of technology, young people feel under pressure to reveal ever more information about themselves. They’re also accessing adult material at younger ages and viewing increasingly extreme images, while traditional ‘offline’ occurrences, such as bullying, relationship break-ups and social pressures, are magnified and recorded online.
sex and relationship education – broader in scope than it is currently – should be taught in every school
Local authorities' responsibilities for the sexual wellbeing of young people should also be expanded.
We believe that the child poverty target should be abandoned. Instead, we need a new approach to tackling family poverty.
Families need resilience and stability in their day-to-day finances. There are parts of the current financial system that are not helping families to get by.
scrapping ISAs, which just provide a tax break for better-off families
Changes are required to encourage all families to make the savings they need for the future and to cope with day-to-day emergencies.
lifelong savings schemes that offer incentives and matched savings, provided by diverse institutions that are accessible and approachable
legislation to allow collective pension schemes and a commission to examine the best way to promote them
Endorsed by pensions minister Steve Webb, Jan 2014
Endorsed by shadow minister Rachel Reeves, May 2014
Payday lending is an increasingly important tool for families who are struggling to make ends meet. But interest rates and irresponsible lending are placing many families at risk.
a cap on APR (annual percentage rate) to mitigate the worst potential affects of payday lending
expanding the affordable lending market, to include a more diverse range of lenders