Intended for healthcare professionals


How family friendly is the UK?

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 04 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4823

Families need more support

As an immigrant through marriage from Europe the most important
difference I have found is the poor level of parenting and the low level
of support to families bringing up children in the UK. Schools cannot make
up for lack of bedtime stories, the lack of parent-child interaction and
missing socialisation before school age. Little value is placed on
aspiration and education in the lower socioeconomic classes in Britain.

This has led to a culture, whereby getting something for nothing is seen
as the norm rather than the exception. The recent riots are a sad sign of
failed family structures. In the UK, families get systematically punished
by the taxman if mum stays at home and looks after the offspring.

Cohabiting parners in Germany are allowed to pool their incomes for
taxation. Because of the law there, that families with children should be
no worse off than singles, the legislator had to go a long way in ensuring
this is happening. Community organisers may help, if they are enthusiastic
and not stifled by targets and paperwork, but the smallest nucleus in any
community are families and they need support if things are to change.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 September 2011
Martin Kittel