A coalition of charities working with millions of families across the UK has expressed disappointment that key Government departments were not able to show how they have applied the Prime Minister’s Family Test to their policy-making, despite their being responsible for the wellbeing of families.
The Family and Childcare Trust, Relate, and Relationship Foundation, supported by 14 other charities, wrote to the 14 relevant Government departments to ask how they had incorporated and assessed the Family Test since its launch in October 2014.
Responses are published today in a new report – Implementing the Family Test: a review of progress one year on.
The Department for Communities and Local Government, which oversees vital council services for families, and the Department of Health, which is responsible for physical and mental health services and social care, were among those departments that did not provide meaningful information about how they have implemented the Family Test. The Cabinet Office, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provided stock responses to the short survey.
In contrast, other departments – such as the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education, The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Defence – were able to demonstrate how they had positively applied the Family Test to policy-making, with the Department for Work and Pensions providing generic guidance and training across departments.
Julia Margo, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: “Some Government departments are proactively implementing the Family Test, and this is welcome news. But, this is a flagship Government policy and the Prime Minister had committed to apply the test across all domestic policy. It is clear this is not happening. We want to see the Family Test given legal status to make sure families, who are the backbone of our society, are given the consideration they deserve when Government makes decisions that affect their lives.”
Relationship support sector charities, including Relate, helped to develop the guidance for the Family Test. Chris Sherwood, chief executive at Relate said: “The Family Test is a really valuable tool, which has the potential to focus departments across Government on the importance of family relationships to the health and stability of our society. It is promising that some departments are already using the test effectively, but it needs to be implemented meaningfully and transparently by everyone if it is to make a real difference.”
Michael Trend, executive director at the Relationship Foundation said: “The Family Test offered an ambitious opportunity for the Government to move towards developing a clear plan for family policy in England. What we need to see now are practical results across all Government departments.”
Along with giving the Family Test statutory footing, the charities want the Government and its departments to:
• Publish a record of their Family Test assessments.
• Publish an annual review reporting on its performance against agreed outcome measures.
• Develop and publish tools and resources to bridge the disconnect between the UK evidence base on family relationships and the Family Test process.
• Examine the feasibility of a local Family Test as decisions affecting families are increasingly devolved to local authorities and health bodies.
They also want to see the devolved governments learn from Westminster to develop their own Family Tests.