A £500 million package is to be announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday (27 October 2021), with the purpose of supposedly providing additional support for families through a planned web of “family hubs” in England. These hubs are to be created in 75 local councils, providing advice and guidance in “one-stop shops” for new and expectant parents to take advantage of.
The plans will be announced in the budget and spending review and will also entail extra support for the mental health of new and expectant parents as well as provide funding for specific needs required by 300,000 vulnerable families.
In the same month that the Tory government snatched away the Universal Credit uplift, it is a kick in the teeth to impoverished families up and down Britain, who are suffering as a result of the Tories’ negligence and greed. Not only that, it is quite hard to see how family hubs will improve any family’s well-being when the childcare system is failing working class families, education for the poor is nose-diving and parents are turning to food banks to keep food on the table for everyone. These systemic issues will not be resolved by allocating funds to one-stop shops that provide no meaningful economic and emotional support to the most vulnerable families in our society when the government is still driven by profit rather than human need.
The funding package can be broken down as such: £82 million for family hubs; £100 million for mental health support to new and expectant parents; £200 million for complex cases where the family might break down; £50 million for breastfeeding support; £50 million for parenting programmes; and £10 million for signposting the Start4Life initiative.
Sunak has said on the plans: “We know that the first thousand and one days of a child’s life are some of the most important in their development, which is why I’m thrilled that this investment will guarantee that thousands of families across England are given support to lead healthy and happy lives.”
What we also know is that children need food in their bellies and adequate living arrangements -something Sunak and the rest of the Tories have fallen short of guaranteeing.
Sunak’s plans also fail to address the problem of almost 3,000 providers of childcare, including childminders, nurseries and pre-schools, shutting their doors this year alone. This figure goes up to 16,000 in the last six years.
This government has continuously ignored crises in different sectors when and as they emerge, which has led to the acute issues working class families face today that the government is now trying to patch up, albeit inadequately. If there’s one thing the Tories are good at, it is making ‘Build Back Better’ ring even more hollow every single day.
Georgina Andrews, is a member of the YCL’s Merseyside branch