Halesowen News column: The importance of helping local families
28th May 2012
In the House of Commons last week I raised a question about the importance of affordable and available childcare, to help parent who wish – or need – to return to work.
Last week’s jobs figures showed a second successive fall in the number of people unemployed in Halesowen and Rowley Regis, and a large increase in the number of people in work compared to at the time of the last election.
However, I speak to a number of people at my constituency surgeries who would like to go back to work part-time, whilst bringing up children, but who simply cannot afford to because the cost of childcare would be more than they would be earning.
This has to change if we are to stop families being trapped in a spiral of welfare dependency.
At a time when many families in Halesowen and Rowley Regis are struggling to get by, it is particularly important that Government should do what it can to make things a little easier.
Strong families offer the best protection against many of the social problems facing us. But this does not just mean financial support.
I was a relatively old first-time father when my son was born. It was a steep learning curve, and it did not seem to be a lot easier when my daughter was born.
Bringing up a child is a huge responsibility. Almost all parents are desperate to do it well, but there is very little training and no instruction manual.
A recent survey said that 85 per cent of mums and dads want more practical help on caring for their baby to provide the best possible start for their children.
That’s why I think it is so important that we should protect our local Children’s Centres and make sure that their good work focusses on reaching out to the families who most need help.
This week, the Government announced that it is going further. New schemes will offer free parenting classes to all parents of children aged five years and under in three trial areas, and will also offer regular emails and texts to new parents and parents-to-be with information as their pregnancy develops and their child grows.
This isn’t about creating a Nanny State, but it is about making sure that the right help and support is available when people need it.
Helping to build strong families must be better than simply cleaning up the symptoms of family and social breakdown.