New research carried out by national charity 4Children has revealed that over half of parents say family life is harder today than it was 20 years ago and that 29% of parents feel that more family friendly practices in the workplace, such as flexible working hours, would make the most real, positive difference to their family life. The response was the most popular answer from among several options, followed closely by better support from public services (28%); better housing (27%); more parks and open play spaces (27%).
The struggle that parents face in balancing their work and home lives was also reflected in the high number of respondents (24%) who said that more affordable, flexible and accessible childcare would make the most real, positive difference to their family life.
In a new report published by the charity, Making Britain Great for Children and Families, 4Children throws down the gauntlet to politicians, policy makers and decision makers, calling for them to reshape this country’s neighbourhoods, public services, spaces and workplaces in response to the dramatic changes to modern family life.
The research is being released as Government finalises its Regulation of Childcare consultation which proposes further ways in which working parents can be helped to strike a better balance between work and home life through the creation of more affordable, high quality childcare.
Newly released figures from the Department for Education show that 46% of low income families have difficulty meeting the cost of childcare, with 39% saying too little information was available about childcare in their local area. Furthermore, recent figures show that currently around two million women and approximately 200,000 men are not working as a result of caring responsibilities. 4Children is now calling on all business leaders and employers to step up and do their bit to create more family friendly workplaces across the country.
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said: “Forward thinking companies are already reaping the rewards of family friendly policies in terms of improved productivity, greater staff retention; stronger employee loyalty and morale and reduced absenteeism. Sadly, these figures reinforce what we frequently hear from struggling parents, that too many employers are still opting for out dated, rigid policies which go against the grain of family life and make it impossible to balance work and caring responsibilities in the home.
“Britain needs a radical culture change in its entire system of support for families - from housing and public services to childcare and workplace policy. It’s in everyone’s interest to think long term about re-designing our neighbourhoods and communities for Britain’s children and families of the future. If this country is going to compete in the global market, we need to ensure we are all helping to make the most of the biggest asset the country has - our children and their families.”
4Children is calling for national and local leaders to sign up to a Family Commitment across a range of areas, including for:
- A Government commitment to ensure that policies work for families
- Flexible working to help families balance work and home responsibilities
- Flexible maternity and paternity leave and extra help back into work
- A guarantee of universal childcare for all families – for children from 0-14