“Family Test” for All Future Laws and Policies
For the first time, some questions have been introduced to as a sort of “family test” when coming up with new government laws and policies.
The plans were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in August, and on Friday, ministers published the criteria guidance that should be applied to future policies.
Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary for Work and Pensions and in charge of family policy, said that the needs of families – any type of family – should be at the heart of government policy. And that’s what the new test is to encourage.
Mr Duncan Smith explained that it is possible for a politician not to notice the needs of families being overlooked during policy making. “This is saying, ‘It’s not good enough that I don’t think about it,’” he said. “It has to be done by officials as they put this stuff together in the beginning.”
This is also why ministers have collaborated with the Relationships Alliance to draw up the guidance. The Alliance is a campaign group made up of various relationships advice and help institutes, such as Marriage Care and Relate.
There are five questions in total that have to be considered during the earliest stages of formulating domestic policies. These include, “What kinds of impact might the policy have on family formation?” and “How does the policy impact those families most at risk of deterioration of relationship quality and breakdown?”.
The idea is to support strong family relations, especially the formation of such, and when going through a “key transition” such as getting married, fostering or adopting a child, bereavement, becoming parents. And these guidelines apply to single-parent families as well.
All departments in the process of creating a new law or policy will have to show that they have met all of the requirements of the test by asking themselves the questions. And although the questions are quite broad, it is believed that it will encourage lawmakers to properly consider the impact of a policy, just as is required when considering whether a new policy would be discriminatory.
Mr Duncan Smith believes that in order to create a stronger society, we have to support the foundations – families and the relationships they are built on.
“We are bringing this issue centre-stage with a new test,” he said, “that will ensure every policy the government introduces is assessed for its impact on the family.”