First ever ‘families test’ for government published (UK)

GOV.UK 31 October 2014
Supporting strong families is vital to help reduce the cost of social problems and build a secure economy for future generations. Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith announced the new test today (31 October 2014).

For the first time ever, the new guidance sets out 5 questions that all policy or legislation across government needs to address before it can be agreed by ministers. The guidance has been drawn up in consultation with families groups. This approach makes clear that all departments need to fully understand how government policies support strong family relationships and will allow departments to identify and take action to address any policies that could undermine them.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:
“Families are the foundations of society – and we know that strong and stable families can have a huge impact on improving the life chances of our children. So in order to build a stronger society and secure Britain’s future we must ensure we support them, and the relationships on which they are built.

“Today we are bringing this issue centre stage with a new test that will ensure every policy government introduced is assessed for its impact on the family.

“This is the truest representation of government on the side of hard-working families in Britain – demonstrating a clear and unqualified commitment to strengthening and supporting family life for our children and for generations to come.”

Ruth Sutherland, Chair of the Relationships Alliance and Chief Executive Officer of Relate, said:
“We very much welcome the implementation of the family test, which was announced at our Relationships Summit in August.

“This is an important step towards putting families and relationships at the heart of public policy, something we have been campaigning passionately for. We are proud to have supported the development of the test and we look forward to seeing it in action, helping policymakers to put the interests of all families at the centre of their work.”

The Prime Minister set out in August that a families test would be introduced for all domestic government policy and the guidance published today has been developed in consultation with Relationship Alliance and other families and relationships experts.

The test includes a series of questions that all civil servants will need to consider when first developing policy and legislation and before it is put to ministers or introduced to Parliament. This will ensure that family perspective is at the heart of government policy.

The 5 families test questions are:
•What kind of impact might the policy have on family formation?
•What kind of impact will the policy have on families going through key transitions such as becoming parents, getting married, fostering or adopting, bereavement, redundancy, new caring responsibilities or the onset of a long-term health condition?
•What impacts will the policy have on all family members’ ability to play a full role in family life, including with respect to parenting and other caring responsibilities?
•How does the policy impact families before, during and after couple separation?
•How does the policy impact those families most at risk of deterioration of relationship quality and breakdown?