Here are the underlying values of my manifesto as Shadow Secretary1 for Families:
- To recognise that families come in many formats;
- To value and support parenting;
- To value the childless and the older generations, and acknowledge that they have a place in the social family;
- To recognise that investment in younger generations is investment in the future;
- To develop evidence-based policy supporting the social family framework.
Sex & Relationships
School curricula and wider social learning will educate children to be able to make informed decisions about sex and relationships, including a broad understanding of different sexualities and gender identities. Family planning will be widely and openly available. By being respectful of children, we will teach them to respect themselves, to question authority, and to say no. We will abide by the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.
We will work to de-medicalise pregnancy and childbirth, provide state-subsidised insurance for midwives, and take low risk birth out of hospital settings. Midwife-led birth centres will be financed through savings on unnecessary interventions in birth and the complications thereof.
In the postnatal period, where the need is identified, daily visits will be made by a postnatal care assistant or doula; referrals will include isolated families with no local grandparents as well as young families, single mothers, and those recovering from a difficult birth. The cost of this will be covered by savings on treating postnatal depression and longer duration of breastfeeding leading to lower incidence of hospitalisation for mothers and babies. We will work with the Department of Health to provide effective breastfeeding support for every mother, and to ban advertisement of infant formula.
This department will facilitate informal childcare, and proposes a top-up to basic social security payments where unemployed or retired family members provide childcare. We will support current arrangements for part time or flexible working, longer maternity and paternity leave, and sabbaticals for parents, recognising that parenthood grows people.
Helping Each Other
Mothers on maternity leave are encouraged to link up with newer parents or with isolated or elderly people, to provide support and company; and the active retired and the unemployed will be encouraged to provide similar support to the isolated or elderly and new families. Other social voluntary work will be rewarded with a top up to basic social security, or with opportunities for social training and development, which in many cases will lead to qualifications and a step back into work or towards a career change.
The Department for Families proposes the development of the Social Family Framework, bringing back the village and creating opportunities for everyone to be nice to each other.
- I just think “shadow secretary” is a really cool title [↩]