Christian MP Caroline Ansell, minister for Eastbourne and Willingdon, has attempted to put families at the heart of government polices across England with a special Bill. The Assessment of Government Policies (Impact on Families) Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 4 December.
If passed, the legislation would mean the Prime Minister’s family impact test, which he announced in August 2014, would become mandatory for all government departments and Ministers of the Crown.
The results of the impact assessment would then have to be published and, if a policy idea fails the test and the department plans to still go ahead, a duty will be placed on them to explain reasons for continuing.
Nola Leach, chief executive for Christian charity CARE, said the attempt to put families back at the heart of government policies was urgently needed, in light of the stark problem of family breakdown across the UK.
She said, ‘CARE has been privileged to help Ms Ansell and support her as she brings this much needed and historic legislation to the House.
‘While we commend the government for what they have done to promote families, there is a huge amount that still needs to be done, and it is extremely unfortunate that the Prime Minister’s family test has been largely ignored by government departments’.
Citing official figures, she said family breakdown has cost the Treasury approximately £47 billion each year. ‘By backing this bill, the government would send a powerful signal across the UK that family life will be protected and safeguarded against policies that would otherwise undermine it.
‘This is not about demonising single parents because they too need support, but if you look at the bigger picture, God designed families for a reason, because they represent the very best design for strong societies’, Ms Leach added.