Labour and Conservatives fight over families

Mums, dads and grandparents are being targeted by politicians – so what exactly are they offering us?

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Families, it seems, is the buzz word for politicians right now, as they ready themselves for the looming election battle.

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This week, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has been outlining Labour’s Families and Relationships Green Paper and arguing with Conservative Families Spokesperson David Willetts, who unveiled the Conservatives’ family focused proposals.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Families Spokesperson David Laws proposed a third approach.

We’ve picked out a few highlights of what’s being offered, so you can see how you might be affected, depending on who wins at the ballot box.

Proposal 1: More support for dads

Proposed by: Labour

Idea: Dads will be encouraged to get more involved with their children’s lives, from pregnancy to birth and beyond, through access to antenatal classes, more flexible paternity leave and an advice booklet aimed at new dads.

Proposal 2: 4,200 more health visitors

Proposed by: Conservatives

Idea: The Conservatives have pledged to employ an extra 4,200 health visitors, roughly doubling the current number. New mums would then be guaranteed six hours of visits at home in the first two weeks after giving birth and one visit a fortnight until their baby is six months.

Proposal 3: More rights for grandparents

Proposed by: Labour

Idea: Grandparents will receive greater support and legal rights when it comes to grandchildren. Ed Balls announced plans to abolish the legal requirement for grandparents to apply for court permission to gain access to their grandchildren when contact is denied. A special website for grandparents, BeGrand.net, is being developed, offering support and advice.

Conservatives say: “Hey, that was our idea!”

Proposal 4: Tax breaks for married couples

Proposed by: Conservatives

Idea: The Tories propose to “help marriage through the tax system” by offering tax relief to couples who are married. However, while David Willetts confirmed the Conservatives were committed to achieving this in the lifetime of the next Parliament, he admitted, “It’s not something we are likely to be able to do in the first budget.”

Labour says: “We support marriage but don’t believe it should be reflected in the tax system.”

Proposal 5: More flexible working and parental leave support

Proposed by:  Labour & Conservatives

Idea: Labour are proposing improved flexible working arrangements for parents and family-friendly employment rights, while the Conservatives have outlined plans to extend flexible working hours to all parents with children under 18.

Proposal 6: More money for education

Proposed by: Lib Dems

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Idea: Direct more money at helping children through the education system and rather than offering tax breaks, websites and guide books for dads.

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