Saturday, 15 June 2013

We need a new aproach to family life - both for mums and dads

Thousands of dads in Haslingden and Hyndburn are celebrating Father’s Day with cards, presents and quality time with their families.

But too many fathers struggle to make the most of their time with their children because as a country, and as a society, we fail to offer enough support for families.

In Government, Labour introduced many changes that made a real difference to family life such as 3,500 Sure Start centres, statutory paternity pay and extra help for mothers, but the current Tory-led Government is making it harder and harder for parents to spend enough quality time with their children.

The Tories’ economic failure is making life worse for families, with prices rising faster than wages and living standards falling faster than ever – adding to the pressure families are under.

Many local parents tell me they have two main priorities: their family, and a job that enables them to improve their family’s standard of living. But many feel that the Tories have let them down on both fronts: no support for parents and falling living standards.

The Government has sent out a clear message: ‘we’ve got nothing to offer you’. Families have already lost up to £1,500 in childcare support through cuts to tax credits, there are fewer Sure Start centres and many of those that remain have scaled back their services, and the Government’s childcare policies are in chaos. So much for David Cameron’s promise to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe.

I know families need more support which is why Labour is exploring ways of easing the pressures parents face and, on Father’s Day, we need to think hard about how to involve both parents in family life as much as possible.

That’s why Labour is looking at ways to offer flexible childcare that meets the needs of working parents and is affordable, helping to ease the pressure on family budgets.

There is still much to be done to help increase the quality of family life for each parent. Both men and women want fulfilling home and working lives but mothers still tend to be pushed into the home and fathers into work. Too often that has meant women stopping working and men unable to spend enough time with their children. This needs to change.

We need a new approach that provides both parents with the opportunity to truly balance their working life with their family life.