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For me, nothing matters more than family. It’s at the centre of my life and the heart of my politics. As a husband and a father I know how incredibly lucky I am to have a wonderful wife and three amazing children.
But in loving my family, and in reflecting on my own upbringing, I’ve also learned something incredibly important about the way that family and politics are inextricably linked.
Long before you get to the welfare state, it is family that is there to care for you when you are sick or when you fall on tough times. It’s family that brings up children, teaches values, passes on knowledge, instils in us all the responsibility to be good citizens and to live in harmony with others. And so for someone from my political viewpoint who believes in building a stronger society from the bottom up, there is no better place to start than with family.
So I think it’s absolutely right that government should do everything possible to help support and strengthen family life in Britain today.
I want every government department to be held to account for the impact of their policies on the family.
The reality is that in the past the family just hasn’t been central to the way government thinks. So you get a whole of policy decisions which take no account of the family and sometimes make these things worse - whether it’s the benefits system incentivising couples to live apart or penalising those who go out to work or whether it’s excessive bureaucracy preventing loving couples from adopting children with no family at all.
We can’t go on having government taking decisions like this which ignore the impact on the family.
I said previously that we would introduce a family test into government. Now that test is being formalised as part of the impact assessment for all domestic policies. Put simply that means every single domestic policy that government comes up with will be examined for its impact on the family.
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