According to the Labour Party website the Labour Party will try to achieve the following if they retain power at the 2010 general election on May 6th:
A strong society depends on strong families. That is why we have always made supporting every child and every family our priority, to give them opportunities to get on in life, extra help when they need it most, and security when times are tough. Patterns of family life are changing, with more and more people balancing caring for children with caring for their elderly parents, and more and more grandparents playing a role in childcare. As our population ages and more women enter employment, families will face increased pressures to balance working and caring. Families need help to deal with the pressures they face, and while they have clear responsibilities of their own, no family or community should have to go it alone. From childcare to a new National Care Service focused on older and disabled people, Labour will provide the support families need to help them fulfil those responsibilities.
We will offer every child in every family help to cope with increasingly busy lives, including shared parental leave for mothers and fathers, wider availability of childcare with centres open at times and in places that suit busy families, and changing the culture of the workplace so that parents are able to work more flexibly. Labour recognises that all families matter and all have a contribution to make, and so we have extended civil partnership and adoption rights to gay couples so that they can take part in society on an equal basis.
Most families depend on our public services, and record investment with Labour has seen new hospitals, new schools and less crime up and down the country. Ambitious goals, which appeared unrealistic in the 1990s, are now delivered as the norm: the 18 week maximum waiting time from referral to treatment in the NHS is a clear example. Services once thought to be out of reach are increasingly found in every community: Sure Start Children’s Centres, universal childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds and Neighbourhood Policing Teams are now seen as something every family should expect. But now, with more people living longer and rightly demanding more independence, we must ensure that everyone who needs it has access to affordable, high-quality, personalised care, with a new National Care Service and, for those with the highest needs, free personal care in the home. Families with disabled children face particular challenges and we have made them a priority, with a total of £770 million in funding for local authorities and primary care trusts to support disabled children and their families, to transform short break services, and to improve disabled children’s services and children’s palliative care.
To help hard working families we are staggering the fuel duty increase for 2010, with an increase of one penny per litre on 1 April 2010 and one penny per litre on 1 October 2010, then 0.76 pence per litre on 1 January 2011.
Average household disposable income has risen by around one-fifth in real terms since 1997. Our tax and benefits changes have given real incentives for people to work. By investing in a flexible Tax Credit system we have provided work incentives by topping up the incomes of those on low wages and of families raising children. Labour has halved the number of people with tax rates of over 90 per cent since 1998. This has largely been due to the introduction of Tax Credits in 1999, which has extended financial support to many more families, including, for the first time, those without children. The National Minimum Wage has increased year on year, providing a floor below which no one is legally allowed to fall.
We have lifted half a million children out of poverty, with some of the biggest falls in child poverty in some of the poorest areas. Labour has helped 500,000 children out of relative poverty and halved the number in absolute poverty, from 3.4 million to 1.7 million. Measures introduced in and since Budget 2007 are expected to lift another 550,000 children out of poverty. Had the Government done nothing other than up-rate the tax and benefit system, there would be around two million more children in poverty than today. We introduced the Child Poverty Bill to help us meet our commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020. And we will increase the value of Tax Credits for parents of the youngest children – this £4 a week increase in Tax Credits will benefit all families and all children, not just those in married families. As the economy readjusts, we will build on our policies to deliver further increased social mobility.
We are supporting the elderly with measures such as an increased state pension, Pension Credit and Winter Fuel payments, which have helped lift 900,000 pensioners out of poverty since 1997. The cold weather conditions of the last few months have underlined the importance of the winter fuel payment for many pensioners. For the last two years these payments were temporarily increased to £250, and £400 for the over-80s. We will guarantee this higher winter fuel payment for another year, so that 9 million pensioner households will receive at least £250 this winter to help with their fuel bills.
We also want to continue to make it easier for older people to work if they want to. We will conduct a review of the retirement age looking at allowing people to retire later if they wish to. We are looking at options which include scrapping the Default Retirement Age, raising it, or giving employees stronger rights. To make it easier for those over 60 to receive Working Tax Credit, we will reduce the minimum number of hours they need to work to be eligible.
Labour Party Families and Pensioners Policy :http://www.labour.org.uk/policies/families-and-pensioners
I would be interested to hear both positive and negative views on Labour’s Families and Pensioners policies in the comments below?
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