07 JUN 2017

General Election 2017 – what do the manifestos mean for families?

General Election 2017 – what do the manifestos mean for families?

With the 2017 General Election upon us, the question arises – what do the parties’ pledges say in relation to family law? 



This article provides a brief, unbiased round-up of some of the messages in the political parties’ manifestos. The short summaries below provide only a short selection of the parties’ policies and are in no way intended to be comprehensive. The manifestos provide full details and context and can also be accessed below.

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The Conservative Party

Click here to view the Conservative Party Manifesto.

Vulnerable children and families

The Conservative Party promises to:
  • Demand all local authorities be commissioners of the highest-quality family support and child protection services, removing these responsibilities from the weakest councils and placing them in trust.
  • Ensure councils provide consistency of care and cannot relocate vulnerable children far from their home when it is not in their best interests to do so. 
  • Review support for children in need to understand why their outcomes are so poor and what more support they might require, in and out of school. 
  • Explore ways to improve the family justice system. 

Domestic violence

The Conservative Party promises to:
  • Bring forward a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill to consolidate all civil and criminal prevention and protection orders and provide for a new aggravated offence if behaviour is directed at a child. 
  • Create a domestic violence and abuse commissioner in law, to stand up for victims and survivors, to monitor the response to domestic violence and abuse and to hold the police and the criminal justice system to account. 
  • Take action to support victims of domestic violence to leave abusive partners, reviewing the funding for refuges and ensuring that victims who have lifetime tenancies and flee violence are able to secure a new lifetime tenancy automatically.
  • Ensure that child victims and victims of sexual violence are able to be cross-examined before their trial without the distress of having to appear in court. Publicly funded advocates will have specialist training in handling victims before taking on serious sexual offences cases. 

Care

The Conservative Party promises to:
  • Include the value of the family home in the means test for people receiving social care at home.
  • Cap the cost of care and guarantee that people can keep £100,000 of assets once their care bill is paid.
  • Allow deferral of care bills until after death so no one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care.
  • Give workers a new statutory entitlement to carer’s leave (as the majority of care is informally provided, mainly by families). 
  • Means test Winter Fuel Payments. The money released will be transferred directly to health and social care.

Mental health

The Conservative Party promises to:
  • Reform outdated laws to ensure that those with mental illness are treated fairly and employers fulfil their responsibilities effectively. 
  • Introduce the first new Mental Health Bill for 35 years, putting parity of esteem at the heart of treatment. 
  • Train 1 million members of the public in basic mental health awareness and first aid to break the stigma of mental illness.

Childcare

The Conservative Party promises to:
  • Introduce, this year, 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds for working parents who find it difficult to manage the costs of childcare. 
  • Immediately institute a capital fund to help primary schools develop nurseries where they currently do not have the facilities to provide one.

The Green Party

Click here to view the Green Party Manifesto.

Domestic violence

The Green Party promises to:
  • Implement a UK-wide strategy to tackle gender-based violence, including domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, female genital mutilation and trafficking.

Care

The Green Party promises to:
  • Invest heavily in social care for the elderly and all those who need it.
  • Review the effectiveness of how public services are structured, sensitive to the needs of all people, including assessment of how care is provided at the transition age of 18.

Mental health

The Green Party promises to:
  • Bring mental health care in line with physical health care and ensure people experiencing mental health crises are supported close to their home and support networks. 
  • Introduce mental health awareness training within the public sector and encourage a more open dialogue on the issue in wider society.

Childcare

The Green Party promises to:
  • Provide free universal early education and childcare for all children, with formal education starting at age 7.

Benefits

The Green Party promises to:
  • Redress benefits injustice with a social security system that gives everyone confidence they will get support when they need it, including disabled people.

The Labour Party

Click here to view the Labour Party Manifesto.

Access to justice

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Introduce a no-fault divorce procedure.
  • Review the judicial appointments process to create a judiciary that is more representative of society. 
  • Immediately re-establish early advice entitlements in the Family Courts. 
  • Reintroduce funding for the preparation of judicial review cases.
  • Review the legal aid means tests, including the capital test for those on income-related benefits, and consider reinstating other legal aid entitlements after receiving the final recommendations of the Access to Justice Commission led by Lord Bach. 
  • Continue to extend the use of technology in our court service where it enhances access to justice, timely dispute resolution and efficient administration.

Women

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Gender audit all policy and legislation for its impact on women before implementation. 
  • Ensure a woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion, and work with the Assembly to extend that right to women in Northern Ireland. 
  • Extend the time period for applying for maternity discrimination to the employment tribunal from 3 to 6 months, reverse employment tribunal fees, work with the Health and Safety Executive to make mandatory a workplace risk assessment for pregnant women so necessary adaptions can be made, and review support for women who have miscarriages.

Domestic violence

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Appoint a new Violence Against Women Commissioner to enforce minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence, provide stable central funding for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres and encourage sharing of best practice between local authorities. 
  • Remove the requirement for victims of domestic abuse to pay doctors for certification of their injuries. 
  • Legislate to prohibit the cross examination of victims of domestic violence by their abuser in certain circumstances.

Gender and sexual equality

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 to ensure they protect Trans people by changing the protected characteristic of ‘gender assignment’ to ‘gender identity’ and removing other outdated language. 
  • Bring the law on LGBT hate crimes into line with hate crimes based on race and faith. 
  • Ensure that all teachers receive initial and ongoing training on the issues students face and how to address them, and ensure all frontline health and social care professionals receive ongoing training to understand and meet the needs of LGBT patients and service users.
  • Ensure that new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive. 

Care

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Lay the foundations of a National Care service and put an extra £8 billion into social care over the next 5 years, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This will enable providers to pay a real living wage without cutting the quality of care they provide, will end 15-minute care visits and will provide care workers with paid travel time, access to training and an option to choose regular hours. 
  • Increase Carer’s Allowance for unpaid full-time carers to align the benefit with rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance. 
  • Raise the asset threshold below which people are entitled to state support, and provide free end-of-life care. 
  • Build a new National Care Service and improve the quality of social care to provide dignity in older age and independence and support for people who are vulnerable or have a disability or a mental health condition.

Mental health

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Ring-fence mental health budgets and ensure funding reaches the frontline. 
  • Stop children being treated on adult mental health wards.
  • End of out-of-area placements by 2019 to stop people being sent away from their support networks to secure the treatment they need. 
  • Increase the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people and ensure access to a counselling service is available for all children in secondary schools. 
  • Ask the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to evaluate the potential for increasing the range of evidence-based psychological therapies on offer.

Childcare

The Labour Party promises to:
  • Extend the 30 free hours to all 2 year olds, and move towards making some childcare available for 1 year olds and extend maternity pay to 12 months.
  • Overhaul the existing childcare system and transition to a system of high-quality childcare places in mixed environments with direct government subsidy. 
  • Maintain current commitments on free hours and make significant capital investment to ensure that the places exist to meet demand. 
  • Phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern. 
  • Halt the closures and increase the amount of money available for Sure Start.

The Liberal Democrat Party

Click here to view the Liberal Democrat Party Manifesto.

Civil and family justice 

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in UK law.
  • Ensure that the UK retains international arrangements for jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of judgments and for family cases currently enjoyed under the EU Brussels I and Brussels II Regulations and the Hague child abduction convention. 
  • Conduct an urgent and comprehensive review of the effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act on access to justice, particularly funding for social welfare appeals, and domestic violence and exceptional cases. 
  • Reverse the increases in court and tribunal fees. 
  • Continue to modernise and simplify court procedures. 

Children and families

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Establish a new online Family University, supported by leading organisations such as the BBC and Open University, to provide every family with advice and guidance for learning and parenting at home, as well as inspiring trips out and local opportunities. 
  • Extend free school meals to all children in primary education and promote school breakfast clubs. 
  • Ensure collaboration between leading education and family organisations to improve the flow of helpful information between home and school without increasing teacher workload. 
  • Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity or gender expression.

Gender and sexual equality

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Introduce an ‘X’ option on passports, identity documents, and official forms for those who do not wish to identify as either male or female, and campaign for its introduction in the provision of other services, for example utilities. 
  • Strengthen legal rights and obligations for couples by introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships and extending rights to cohabiting couples. 
  • Extend protection of gender reassignment in equality law to explicitly cover gender identity and expression, and streamline and simplify the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow individuals to change their legal gender without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. 
  • Remove the spousal veto, and abolish remaining marriage inequalities in areas such as pensions, hospital visitation rights and custody of children in the event of bereavement. 

Care

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Add 1p to basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue, which would be ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. 
  • Direct this additional investment to social care, primary care (and other out-of-hospital care), mental health and public health. 
  • As a replacement for the 1p Income Tax rise, commission the development of a dedicated health and care tax on the basis of wide consultation, possibly based on a reform of National Insurance contributions, which will bring together spending on both services into a collective budget and set out transparently, on people’s payslips, what we spend on them. 
  • Uprate working age benefits in line with inflation.
  • Complete the implementation of a cap on the cost of social care. 
  • Ensure those who work in the social care sector are properly trained.
  • Raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify. 
  • Give the NHS a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to inform carers of their NHS rights, such as flexible visiting hours and access to support. 
  • Provide more choice at the end of life and move towards free end-of-life social care. 

Mental health

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Ring-fence funding from within the 1p Income Tax rise to provide additional investment in mental health. 
  • Ensure mental health care waiting time standards match those in physical health care.
  • Continue to roll out access and waiting time standards for children, young people and adults to guarantee that people will not wait more than 6 weeks for therapy for depression or anxiety and no young person will wait more than 2 weeks for treatment when they experience a first episode of psychosis. 
  • Increase access to clinically- and cost-effective talking therapies and examine the case for introducing a dedicated service for children and young people based on the Australian ‘headspace’ model. 
  • Transform mental health support for pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth, and help them get early care when needed. 
  • Continue to promote and invest in the Frontline programme to fast-track exceptional graduates into children’s social work, as well as the Think Ahead scheme aimed at encouraging high-achieving graduates to pursue a career in mental health social work. 
  • Ensure that no one in crisis is turned away, with new waiting time standards and better crisis care in accident and emergency departments, in the community and via phone lines, to end the use of police cells for people facing a mental health crisis. 
  • End out-of-area placements, ensuring those admitted to hospital for mental ill-health are able to be treated close to home. 
  • Ensure that all frontline public service professionals, including in schools and universities, receive better training in mental health. 
  • Roll out the Liaison and Diversion programme nationally, helping to identify people who have mental health problems, learning disabilities, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system. 
  • Tackle stigma against mental ill-health. 
  • Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support. 
  • Ensure all teaching staff are trained to identify mental health issues and that schools provide immediate access for pupil support and counselling.

Childcare

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Expand Shared Parental Leave with an additional ‘use it or lose it’ month to encourage fathers to take time off with young children. 
  • Encourage employers to provide more flexible working. 
  • Provide 15 hours a week of free childcare to the parents of all 2 year olds in England and prioritise 15 hours’ free childcare for all working parents in England with children aged between 9 months and 2 years. 
  • Commit to a long-term goal of 30 hours’ free childcare a week for all parents in England with children aged from 2 to 4 years, and all working parents from the end of paid parental leave to 2 years. 
  • Fund more extensive childcare, and provide better back-to-work support. 

Benefits

The Liberal Democrat Party promises to:
  • Uprate working-age benefits at least in line with inflation. 
  • Abandon the two-child policy on family benefits and abolish the ‘rape clause’ where a woman has to declare children that are born as a result of rape in order to access benefits. 
  • Withdraw eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment from pensioners who pay the higher rate tax.

UKIP

Click here to view the UKIP Manifesto.

Family justice 

UKIP promises to:
  • Review the operation of the Family Court. 
  • Remove the current blanket ban on media reporting of placement and adoption proceedings and allow journalists to report on the same basis as other family law proceedings.
  • Publish all case summaries, skeleton arguments, judgments and other documents relating to family proceedings as a matter of course, on an anonymised basis.
  • Require expert witnesses to list previous court cases in which they have given evidence.
  • Promote more extensive use of Special Guardianship Orders so that children can retain links with their birth family.

Family Reunion Visas

UKIP promises to:
  • Abolish the European Economic Area family permit scheme and reinstate the primary purpose rule. Foreign nationals marrying British citizens will have to prove the primary purpose of their marriage is not to obtain British residency.

Women

UKIP promises to:
  • Make failure to report a known instance of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a criminal offence.
  • Implement a screening programme for girls identified to be at risk of FGM from birth to age 16, consisting of annual non-invasive physical check-up.
  • Carry out additional check-ups on girls at risk when they return to the UK from trips to countries where FGM is known to be customary.
  • Make FGM an indictable offence (meaning it can only be heard in the Crown Court) with a sentencing starting point of 6 years. 
  • Challenge those who do not uphold the rights of women, or who set themselves on a deliberate collision course with core British values of equality, free speech and democracy. 
  • Protect all women, regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion.
  • Make ‘breast ironing’ a specific criminal offence.
  • Make certain that neither the legal nor the welfare system in Britain ever recognises polygamy.
  • Include information on cultural crimes in safeguarding training for teachers, staff and school governors.
  • Ban wearing of the niqab and the burqa in public places.
  • Ban Sharia courts.

Children

UKIP promises to:
  • Prosecute all cases of child and forced marriage and refuse permanent leave to remain and/or British citizenship to any adult known to have procured a child marriage for themselves or their children.

Care

UKIP promises to:
  • Reverse cuts to the adult social care budget and end work capability tests for disabled people, investing up to £2 billion every year into social care. 
  • Establish a Department for Health and Care, and create a sustainably funded social care system assimilated into the NHS.
  • Keep winter fuel allowance for all over-60s, without means testing.
  • Prioritise early intervention schemes and community-based models of care that promote independence and well-being, such as supported living arrangements. 
  • Continue to pay Attendance Allowance for all people over the age of 65 who need help with personal care, including new claimants, from central government funds. 
  • Address the culture of long hours, low pay and perceived low status that leads to high turnover of care staff. 
  • Make sure those with ongoing health care needs choose where they wish to live, unless they are unable to make that choice themselves, or care at home becomes unviable. 
  • Protect services such as meals-on-wheels, luncheon clubs, day care services and home care.
  • Introduce a legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standard of care for older people in hospital, care homes or their own home. 
  • Give carers an extra 5 days’ paid holiday each year, and increase Carer’s Allowance.
  • Improve carers’ access to support by sharing information on benefit and social care entitlements and on support groups across all public services.

Mental health

UKIP promises to:
  • Put mental well-being on the same footing as physical health care, in terms of both access to treatment and funding. 
  • Cut waiting times to 28 days maximum. 
  • Close the gaps between child and adult, and physical and mental care services.
  • Stop funding for mental health services being diverted to other NHS services. 
  • Integrate mental health training into the teacher-training syllabus and develop a national school-based counselling strategy for England, on a par with Wales and Northern Ireland. Specialist counselling services will be available in all secondary schools. 
  • Encourage schools to invite specialist support organisations into schools.

Childcare

UKIP promises to:
  • Review childcare provision, not least to deregulate and simplify an increasingly fragmented system. 
  • Allow parents to use their free childcare entitlements to access a greater choice of childcare providers by removing restrictions limiting them only to Ofsted-registered childcare providers. 
  • Extend the primary school day by offering wrap-around childcare from 8am to 6pm during term time.
  • Require local authorities to keep a register of childcare providers willing to provide emergency childcare cover at short notice.
  • Amend planning legislation in order to make play spaces compulsory in housing estates, and to promote nursery or crèche provision in developments such as shopping centres, office blocks, hospitals, airports and railway stations. 
  • Create a fund worth £80 million a year to help childminders and smaller childcare providers employing five people or fewer to open their doors to more children with special needs. 
  • Legislate for an initial 50:50 presumption of shared parenting when couples break up. 
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