Prime Minister David Cameron described family as the “best anti-poverty measure ever” in a speech this week.
Speaking in London at an event held by the charity Family Action, Cameron pledged to double the amount of money spent on relationship support services to £70 million over the next five years. He claimed that the £35 million spent during the last parliament helped 160,000 couples stay together.
The Prime Minister insisted that strengthening families was the best step to fighting poverty in the UK because they were “a welfare, education and counselling system all wrapped up into one”. Children whose parents are still together are less likely to experience poverty, he claimed.
Mr Cameron also announced the relaunch of parenting classes, which were originally offered by the coalition government. However, only four per cent of parents with children younger than five years old signed up between April 2012 and January 2014, the BBC reports.
The Prime Minister said he hoped that it would soon be considered “normal, even aspirational, to attend parenting courses”. The government would consider different ways to convince people to go, such as voucher schemes or other incentives, he explained.
Other measures were also announced during his speech, including increased funding for mental health services in England.
However, the Labour Party claimed the proposals were “too little, too late”. Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said Cameron was “fond of making speeches about families but absolutely woeful in following through”. The Conservative government’s track record of “huge cuts to family support services” had effectively left “many, many … families in crisis”, she claimed.