Social Policy and Families


What is Social Policy?

-Plans or actions set out by the government.

-Most social policies affect families, either directly (Divorce law/Adoption) or indirectly (Compulsory Education/Tax Law)

Policies that effect families in Britain

TAX - Married couples tax allowance (married couples get taxes less)

BENEFITS - Child benefit; Working families tax credits (for low-income families)

LAWS -  Civil partnerships; Divorce laws; Age of consent to sex and marriage; Abortion; Contraception; Maternity and Paternity leave; Education policies.

Examples of British policies 

Civil partnership Act 2005 - Implemented in 2004 by New Labour government. Into effect December 2005. Same-sex couples can register a civil partnership with almost the same legal effects and rights as mixed-sex couples. Impacts the family by giving recognition to same-sex couples on the same basis as mixed-sex e.g hospitals list partners as next of kin, provides the same laws that protect from domestic abuse, legally seen as a "real couple". 18,059 civil partnerships between December 2005 - December 2006 and after that roughly 6000 a year. 

Abortion Act 1967 – Made abortion legal and available through the NHS. New Right thinkers argue that some young women use abortion as a form of contraception, which undermines the sanctity of childbearing and family life.

Sexual offences Act 1967 – Partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales. The age of consent was set at 21 by the act, which was reduced to 18 in 1994 and 16 in 2000.

Marriage Act 2013 - Converts civil partnership to marriage. Feminism like because it protects from abuse etc. 

Adoption and Children Act 2002 – Allowed same-sex couples the right to apply to adopt a child. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which came into place in 2009 legally recognised lesbians and their partners as parents in cases of in-vitro fertilisation.

Domestic violence crime + victims act 2004 - Aids preventing and stopping domestic abuse by bringing exposure to abuse and surrounding topics. Bought many victims forwards. Amended 2012 to fix a loophole that allowed people to escape prosecution.

Free NHS healthcare - 1948. People could have free medical care that meets everyone's needs. Removes reliability on family members to care for their relatives by handing responsibility to the state. Healthier Britain. However, the service is too expensive to fund and has issues with waiting times, so the New right would argue more Marketisation needs to take place. 

Divorce Reform Act 1969 – Reduced the previously high cost of divorce and made the legal process of getting a divorce much more simple. The New Right argue that the Divorce Reform Act has resulted in people no longer taking marriage seriously.

Welfare state - 1942. A collection of social policies which Introduced NHS and family allowances, extended schooling, increased social bouncing and the social security system. Helped unhealthy and poor. Negative stigma attached to benefits and underclass. New right claims welfare allows people to be "lazy" and scrounge off benefits.

Sure start programmes - 1998. Aimed at giving children the "best start" in life through the provision of childcare, support,


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