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David Cameron 'Family-Friendly Country' Pledge Rejected By Charity

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The Family and Parenting Institute has set up the virtual voicemail service
The Family and Parenting Institute has set up the virtual voicemail service

David Cameron is struggling to live up to his promise to create a family-friendly United Kingdom, a charity has claimed.

The coalition government scored just D+ on the Family and Parenting Institute's annual report card and was told it "must try harder".

A virtual voicemail is now being set up by the charity to allow hard-pressed families to "dial Dave" and leave messages about their experiences.

In December 2010 the prime minister pledged to make Britain the "most family-friendly country in Europe".

But the institute's report "paints a bleak picture", highlighting how the economic squeeze is continuing to to make life "intensely difficult" for millions of homes as they are hit by tax and benefit changes, high childcare costs and high costs of living.

It warns the freeze on child benefit payments and working tax credits changes as causing particular pinch points.

The charity praises the government for investing £448 million in intervening in the lives of 120,000 troubled families by 2015, as well as commitments to early years education and nursery places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

But it raises concerns about local authority budget cuts, which it claims are being passed on to families because services are being scaled back.

It also warns the government it faces a housing "bombshell" after charity Shelter claimed there had been an 86% increase in the number of families with children renting privately in the last five years.

Institute chief executive Katherine Rake said: "The score of D+ shows how the government is struggling to realise its ambition of a family-friendly UK.

"Families serve as the shock absorbers of society when times are tough. But millions of families are close to breaking point due to financial pressures.

"We are worried there is even worse to come as austerity measures are carried through and median family income is predicted to continue to fall until 2015.

"Essentially, Mr Cameron is running up the down escalator. The pro-family policies that he has introduced are being dwarfed by the economic situation. He needs to be much bolder if families are to thrive."

Ms Rake added: "This D+ score is a 'must try harder' verdict. We are calling on the prime minister to respond in person to this assessment and explain to the nation how his family friendly vision can still be realised."

The Family and Parenting Institute is giving the public an opportunity to leave the prime minister a voicemail to tell him what family life is really like in the UK today. Visit www.audioboo.fm/channel/dial-dave