Following fast on the heels of last week’s analysis of Conservative-Liberal Democrat plans for immigration, today we take a look at their proposals for family law.
1. Comprehensive review of family law: The coalition have promised a ‘comprehensive review’ of family law. This review will in fact simply continue the review previously announced by Jack Straw back in January 2010, which is looking at ways to avoid confrontational court hearings, encourage the use of mediation to deliver fairer and less acrimonious settlements, and provide greater access rights to non-resident parents and grandparents.
2. Protect children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation: This was something that David Cameron spoke about quite a lot during the election campaign. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with in terms of concrete proposals.
3. End child poverty in the UK by 2020: This commitment is enshrined in the Child Poverty Act 2010, which was enacted by the previous government in March 2010.
4. Reform the administration of tax credits to reduce fraud and overpayments.
5. Reduce the ‘couple penalty‘ in the tax credit system: Quite what the coalition means by the ‘couple penalty’ is unclear. Conservative Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has previously given speeches about how it’s ‘more profitable’ for couples with children to live apart, but has offered very little in the way of convincing evidence to back this up.
6. Support the provision of free nursery care for pre-school children by a diverse range of providers with a greater gender balance in the early years workforce. Very little in the way of detail yet about how the coalition will do this.
7. Increase focus on early intervention and outreach to the neediest families. The Conservatives big idea on this is to ‘better involve organisations with a track record of supporting families’ and incentivise providers by ‘paying them for the results they achieve’.
8. Review the present criminal records and vetting and barring regime and ‘scale it back to common sense levels’.
9. Encourage shared parenting from early pregnancy and promote ‘flexible parental leave’. Currently, employed fathers are entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave and mothers to 52 weeks maternity leave, of which up to 39 weeks are paid. Last September, Labour announced mothers would be able to transfer the final six months of their maternity leave to the father once the mother has returned to work. It would seem the coalition may go one step further and allow parents to share the allocation of maternity and paternity leave between them in whatever way suits them best.
10. Increase funding for relationship support and provide greater encouragement for couples to use existing relationship support. No specifics on how the coalition propose to do this.
- The Coalition: Our Programme For Government
- Election 2010: Comparison Of Parties’ Policies On Family Law
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