It has been a busy conference season – here are the highlights.
LibDems launch expansion of nursery education
The LibDem’s Sarah Teather, Minister for Children, announced the expansion of nursery education for two year olds. She said” For the first time, we will make 15 hours of early education available to all disadvantaged two year olds. And this early education will become a legal entitlement. I will shortly be launching a consultation on how councils will decide which children are eligible. I’ll propose that first and foremost every family who meet the criteria for free school meals should qualify, along with looked after children.” As well as being positive for the children, this will offer lone parents on income support an opportunity more time to do the things that will help them improve their own lives, such as improving their skills.
Labour attacks cuts in childcare
With the Labour party out of office it was left to Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper to express her concern about cuts in childcare provision and lowering of support in tax credits.
Cameron under pressure to improve conservative image with women
David Cameron was under pressure from polls that indicated his party was loosing the support of women and in particular lone parents because they are bearing the brunt of public service cuts and welfare benefit cuts (see earlier blog single mother singled out).
IDS pledges to support married couples
In his speech to the Conservative party Ian Duncan Smith said that ‘bias’ against two-parent units should be reversed. “This isn’t about Government interfering in family life; it’s about Government recognising that stable two-parent families are vital for the creation of a strong society,” he added. It’s about parents taking responsibility for their children. It’s about government realising that we have to create a level playing field for the decisions people make about family. This means reversing the biases against stability we have seen in recent years, including the damaging financial discouragement to couple formation, despite the evidence of its stable outcomes for children.” This was seen as a reminder to David Cameron of his pledge for tax breaks for married couples and by campaigners for lone parents such as Gingerbread as a return to outdated stereotypes.
Conservatives will block beneftis to those who refuse a job
Both Cameron and IDS signalled a new sanction for benefit claimants who refuse to take jobs, promising a new ‘contract’ which will ‘bring to an end the something-for-nothing culture’. ‘Fail to seek work, take work, stay in work or co-operate, and you will lose your benefits,’ said IDS. – Currently Lone Parents have different rules allowing them to choose to work part time and school hours. It is unclear yet as to whether this will change.