You are here: News Key government departments show no record of family test application – new research

A coalition of charities working with millions of families across the UK has expressed disappointment that key Government departments were not able to show how they have applied the Prime Minister’s Family Test to their policy-making, despite their being responsible for the wellbeing of families. 

The Family and Childcare Trust, Relate, and Relationship Foundation, supported by 14 other charities, wrote to the 14 relevant Government departments to ask how they had incorporated and assessed the Family Test since its launch in October 2014.

Responses are published today in a new report- Implementing the Family Test: a review of progress one year on.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, which oversees vital council services for families, and the Department of Health, which is responsible for physical and mental health services and social care, were among those departments that did not provide meaningful information about how they have implemented the Family Test. The Cabinet Office, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provided stock responses to the short survey.

In contrast, other departments – such as the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education, The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Defence – were able to demonstrate how they had positively applied the Family Test to policy-making, with the Department for Work and Pensions providing generic guidance and training across departments.

Julia Margo, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: 

"Some Government departments are proactively implementing the Family Test, and this is welcome news. But, this is a flagship Government policy and the Prime Minister had committed to apply the test across all domestic policy. It is clear this is not happening. We want to see the Family Test given legal status to make sure families, who are the backbone of our society, are given the consideration they deserve when Government makes decisions that affect their lives."

Relationship support sector charities, including Relate, helped to develop the guidance for the Family Test. Chris Sherwood, chief executive at Relate said:

"The Family Test is a really valuable tool, which has the potential to focus departments across Government on the importance of family relationships to the health and stability of our society. It is promising that some departments are already using the test effectively, but it needs to be implemented meaningfully and transparently by everyone if it is to make a real difference."

Michael Trend, executive director at the Relationship Foundation said:  

"The Family Test offered an ambitious opportunity for the Government to move towards developing a clear plan for family policy in England. What we need to see now are practical results across all Government departments."

Along with giving the Family Test statutory footing, the charities want the Government and its departments to: 

  • Publish a record of their Family Test assessments.
  • Publish an annual review reporting on its performance against agreed outcome measures.
  • Develop and publish tools and resources to bridge the disconnect between the UK evidence base on family relationships and the Family Test process.
  • Examine the feasibility of a local Family Test as decisions affecting families are increasingly devolved to local authorities and health bodies.

They also want to see the devolved governments learn from Westminster to develop their own Family Tests.


Contact: Mark Bou Mansour, Communications and Campaigns Manager. Telephone: 0207 940 7535, mobile: 07538 334 772, email:

Notes to editor:

  • The Family and Childcare Trust, Relate and the Relationships Foundation wrote to 14 Government departments. We received 10 responses, summarised below.  Full responses can be seen from page 15 in the report.

  • The Family Test was announced by the Prime Minister in a speech in August 2014 where Mr Cameron set out the importance of family relationships to society. He made a commitment that every domestic policy the Government introduced will be examined for its impact on the family.

  • The test was formally introduced in October 2014 and implemented through guidance produced by the Department for Work and Pensions.

About the Family and Childcare Trust

The Family and Childcare Trust aims to make the UK a better place for families. We are a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues, with over 40 years’ experience. Our on-the-ground work with parents and providers informs our research and campaigns. We focus on the early years and childcare because they are crucial to boosting children’s outcomes throughout life and supporting parents to work.

About Relate

Relate is the UK’s leading relationship support organisation, serving more than one million people through information, support and counselling every year. Our vision is a future in which healthy relationships are actively promoted as the basis of a thriving society.

We aim to develop and support healthy relationships by:

  • delivering inclusive, high-quality services that are relevant at every stage of life
  • helping couples, families and individuals to make relationships work better
  • helping both the public and policy makers improve their understanding of relationships and what makes them flourish.


About the Relationships Foundation

The Relationships Foundation is the think tank for a better connected society.  It was set up  in 1993 to develop relational thinking and engage with policy makers. We believe that a good society is built on good relationships, from family and community to public service and business. We study the effect that culture, business and government have on relationships – eg, in terms of time, finance, etc. We create new ideas for strengthening social connections and campaign on issues where relationships are being undermined. And we train and equip people to think relationally for themselves.