In this essay I will be writing about what changes state policies and laws have made to the society and how they may affect family life by doing so. There are many policies/laws out there that have had an effect on family life and one of these was the ‘Child Support Act’ which led to the formation of the ‘Child Support Agency’. Other policies/laws include the Family Law Act of 1996, Rewarding marriages with tax breaks, Working Families Tax Credit, and the attempt of the removal of child poverty. Among this I will be talking about the new right theory and their points and views on the family and what laws should be put in place.
One of the Conservatives policies that were passed in 1991 was the Child Support Act which then led to the formation of the Child Support Agency. What this policy aimed to do was reduce the amount of fatherless families by forcing absent fathers to pay a certain amount of money for their children that they’ve left behind. The government thought of this as a good idea as it would reduce the amount of welfare payments being giving to lone mothers therefore helping the economy. However this didn’t really benefit love mothers as the money paid in from the father would be deducted from the mother’s benefits so she would be receiving exactly the same amount. As a result, this policy didn’t have a major effect on family life although it may reduce the amount of fathers that walk out on their families. Another one of the Conservatives policies this time introduced in 1996 brought about a period of wait that a couple had to undergo before they could officially get divorced.
The main purpose of this proposal was to try and reduce the amount of divorces by encouraging the couple with as much time as possible to save their marriage. This policy would affect the family life by keeping more families together and happy however the act was never finalised as judges deemed it as unworkable. Labour introduced one of their policies to do with the Working Families Tax Credit that was designed to help people find paid employment. This one was specifically aimed mostly at lone parents as since April 2001, they were required to attend an annual interview about job opportunities. The Working Families Tax Credit would help lone parents move benefits to low paid jobs by topping up their wages. This policy may affect family life as it pushes lone parents into work and although they may be earning similar money as they would’ve if they were on benefits, it provides them with a starting point to hopefully earn more money as they climb up the ranks.
One of Labours aims was to remove children out of poverty and one of the ways that they’ve attempted to do so is by increasing the amount of Child Benefits being provided. From 1997 to 2001, Child benefits have increased by 26 per cent and by doing so it has lifted 600,000 children out of poverty as stated by the children’s secretary Ed Balls. This may have a positive effect on family life as it provides the children with a positive childhood and helps the family to be financially stable.
However, according to the Guardian in 2007 the number of children that are living in poverty rose for the first time in six years by 200,000 to 3.8 million in 2005 to 2006. More recently, the conservatives proposed a policy that provides married couples with a tax break. This clearly shows that David Cameron clearly favours the ‘married family’ as his policy does not apply to cohabiting couples with children. This tax break is worth around one thousand pounds and it may affect family life as it would encourage people to not only get married but stay married which would create or maintain stability in the family.
The New Right leans towards the same views of the Conservatives as they clearly support the idea of the Nuclear Family as they think that Nuclear Families should be encouraged and family diversity should be discouraged. In 1999 and 2000, Morgan and Saunders wrote that The New Right believe the government should favour married parenthood by rewarding them and providing them with special legal rights and safeguards. They also believe that the increase in Lone-parent families is due to over generous welfare benefits and that they should be reduced to tempt people out of this decision. Another way in which they want to discourage family diversity is by denying unmarried couples the rights and privileges given to married couples and by making divorce much more difficult.
There has recently been a cap on benefits introduced. This means that the amount of money claimed by a family cannot exceed the average wage for a working family. It was introduced to keep things ‘fair’ although some people saw it as unlawful. This new policy could encourage more parents to get into work in the attempt to earn more money. All of this is the government’s way of saving money and therefore keeping the economy running. In conclusion most of these state policies/laws introduced have a positive effect on family life, others could be deemed as unfair however all in all they try to create a stable society as the family is a key factor in the make-up of a good society.