The new ‘families test’

3 November, 2014

The government has announced that in accordance with their commitment to support strong and stable families, all new laws or government policies will face a new ‘families test’.

There are 5 questions that all policy or legislation across government must address before the policy or legislation can be put to ministers or introduced to parliament.

The 5 questions are as follows:

  1. What kind of impact might the policy have on family formation
  2. What kind of impact will the policy have on families going through key transitions such as becoming parents, getting married, fostering or adopting, bereavement, redundancy, new caring responsibilities or the onset of a long-term health condition?
  3. What impacts will the policy have on all family members’ ability to play a full role in family life, including with respect to parenting and other caring responsibilities?
  4. How does the policy impact families before, during and after couple separation?
  5. How does the policy impact those families most at risk of deterioration of relationship quality and breakdown?

All departments will have to document how they have met the families test.

The Department for Work and Pensions have said that it is vital that the whole of government fully understood how its policies supported strong family relationships and the test would allow its departments to identify and take action to address any policies that could undermine them.

The DWP is also investing around £20 million on relationship support to ensure family stability and to reduce the risk of relationship breakdown, including piloting antenatal classes in 6 regions with a focus on the father being involved in the child’s life.

Readers of this blog will know that our Alex Davies recently appeared on Radio Kent speaking about the new law focussing on children’s needs after divorce, and in particular that the family courts will presume that on separation, each parent will play a role in the life of their child.

These reforms by the government seek to put the family at the heart of policy development.