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HM Government: Policy Review

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The Government's overarching objectives in family policy are to improve the outcomes of family members (for example children's educational attainment,the health of family members or the income of parents) and to ensure that all families are treated fairly, which means focusing particular attention on the most disadvantaged groups.

These have not always been the objectives of government policy. In fact, the policies of successive governments have changed significantly over the past 50 years and beyond, often in line with evolving attitudes towards family life. Chapter 1 discusses the changing role of government in relation to the family and sets out the current Government's rationale for intervention in this policy area.

Significant progress has been made towards the goals of improved outcomes and equity over the course of the past decade. For example, there are now just 47 secondary schools where fewer than one in four pupils gains five or more good GCSEs compared with 616 in 1997; £21 billion has been invested in childcare and early years services since 1997; and the New Deals programmes have helped 1.7 million people into work since 1998.

Drawing on a series of ministerial seminars, citizens' deliberative forums and other pieces of work carried out as part of the Government's Policy Reviews, this paper argues that, over the course of the next 10 years, more should be done to help achieve the Government's two overarching objectives of improving outcomes and ensuring greater equity. Specifically, the Government should do more to:

The success of families is first and foremost down to the commitments and behaviour of the individuals within them. But the Government does have a role to play in ensuring that citizens are given the opportunity to secure the best outcomes for their families and in improving equity. This paper sets out the Government's vision of how this can be achieved over the decade to come.

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