Family Relationships (Impact Assessment and Targets) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:13 pm on 23rd February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 12:13 pm, 23rd February 2018

That is a helpful intervention, because I absolutely agree with that. Family impact assessments are an important tool in getting to that point. That was the point I was going to make.

We need to look not only to local authorities—as the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, and the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, mentioned—but to try to capture some soft support systems in neighbourhoods and communities in future. That is new for me; I look to the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, when I say this, but I have always kept a bit of distance from the agenda that she has been very positively promoting in her own way, because I always had a suspicion that Conservative Governments and Conservative Chancellors in the past have sometimes used it as a way of saying that we do not really need to keep up the benefit expenditure. I am in favour of individual entitlements to benefits, and when you look at the cuts, freezes and caps, that has not been made any easier. But even I—if I can put it that way—am now thinking that we really need to look at some of these symptoms that the Centre for Social Justice and others have been looking at, as additional methods of support. We can make it more cost-effective if we have more effective family policy, and I think that this Bill does that, particularly in setting up objectives and targets, looking at reporting and being transparent and honest about that reporting.

I have a couple of points to contribute to the debate. The DWP has an enormous amount of data. The quest of the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, could be assisted considerably if some of the really clever people in the research department there thought about how to cut across and tabulate some of the real-time information. There is a minefield—no, not a minefield, a mine. What am I trying to say?