SPFB #2 Social Policy and The Family In Britain: Bias Towards Conventional Families

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  • Social Policy and The Family In Britain:                             Bias Towards Conventional Families
    • Allan (1985)
      • Proposes that much government policy is geared towards the idea that at some stage in their lives one member of the family will put primary work second place to the family I.e. looking after the children, taking care of the elderly and sick - which is usually assumed to be a female role.
    • Childcare
      • However it is not possible to offset the costs against earnings to reduce the size of tax bills
      • This reduces the incentive for mothers (or primary carer) to seek employment, since any childcare costs have to be paid out of income from employment which is liable to taxation
      • With childcare the government now pays for 15 hours approved childcare per week for all 3-4 year olds
    • Johnson (1982)
      • School anf Holiday hours mean that families with children find it hard to combine employers requests with domestic responsibilitie-ties
      • Proposes that the education system has been set up in such a way that it is difficult for single-parent families and duel-worker families to combine work with domestic responsibili-ties
    • Parker (1982)
      • More recently families have been further encouraged to take on more of a caring role for the elderly members in addition to them using their savings to pay for additional care.
      • In England 2012 the elderly had to meet their own full care costs if they had saving or assets (such as a house) valued over £23,250.00
      • Argues that state assistance does not necessarily come easy to those with elderly or sick relatives because it is assumed that they will take on the responsibility of looking after the,
    • What is child benefit?
      • Up to 16 or 18 if the child is in education. In the UK its a regular payment from the government to the parents of a child up to a certain age
    • Who gets child benefit?
      • The parent who is responsible for the child
    • How much benefit do you get?
      • £20.50 per week for first child, and £13.55 for any further children
    • Who does not get child benefit under current legislation?
      • Everyone, but if the parent earns over 50,000 there is a taxed charge and your partner would be responsible for this taxed charge, say if the mother gets the benefit the farther would pay the tax
    • Public Housing Policy
      • Harding (1996) believes that this tends to favour married couples over single parents with children
      • Single parents are usually provided with places not as nice, built for nuclear families by men who do not understand the needs of single parent families
    • The Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
      • In April 2003 the government introduced to help low income families with childcare costs, the aim was to discourage women in these families from staying at home to look after these children
    • Child Support Act (1991)
      • The Child Support Agency has been criticised for example, many argue that it's main aim is not to help children but rather to save the treasury money, since maintenance payments usually reduce the benefits paid to single mothers.
      • In its first year the agency was set a target of saving £350 million of taxpayers money
      • It was the father in particular who were targeted and in a way you can see this as supporting traditional family ideas through forcing financial support from them.
      • However, it was clear that the Conservative minister supported the agency but just to save money, but also because they saw it as helping uphold the moral values relating to parental responsibility
      • The Child Support Agency was set up in 1993 to ensure that parents who were absent from their children's lives paid maintenance for them so that this burden did not just fall on the welfare state.
      • The labour government continued with the principles of this policy when they were elected in 1993.
    • Maternity and Paternity
      • In 2012 the government introduced that fathers were allowed to take 2 weeks paid ordinary paternity leave, although mother can take up to 26 weeks.
      • There is also an additional 26 weeks leave that can be taken by either parent (although the father can only take if the mother had returned to work)
    • Welfare Cuts in 1980's and 1990's
      • Cuts in welfare benefits had the effect of extending the responsibili-ties of families beyond the immediate nuclear family.
      • This was in contrast to earlier decades when the state took on this responsibility
    • The Children's Act (1989)
      • The act acknowledged that children are vulnerable and need protecting, therefore it identified roles for parents, schools and social services.
      • This now means that courts are allowed to overrule parental decisions about medical treatment and can make decisions about how capable a parent is to look after their child
    • Feminists Fight Back Collective (2011)
      • Argues that cuts in government spending in 2010 in the UK, will result in women being forced to take a greater role in providing for family members, this encouraging traditional gender roles within the family
    • Policy's that don't support the conventional family:
      • Harding (!991)
        • Increasing intolerance of men using violence to discipline their wives or children has further undermined traditional patriarchal authority relations within families
        • Mentions the House of Lords ruling that men were no longer exempt from being charged with raping their wives
      • The gradual liberation of divorce laws shows a willingness to accept that marriage does not guarantee  the long-term stability of a family.
        • Almonds (2006)
          • Suggests this this undermines the idea of marriage for life, along with the acceptance of civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples sending the message that conventional families are no longer preferable to other living arrangements
      • Harding says there are:
        • "some rights which have been extended to cohabitees, such as succession to tenancies and inheritance in certain circumstance, and the right to have od made to restrain violence"
      • Almond (2006)
        • Argues that recent polices undermine traditional family structures.
        • She claims that tax legislation discriminates against families where there is one breadwinner
        • They cannot use their partners tax allowances, and two-earner families tend, therefore to pay less tax than one-earner families


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