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Where is the most family friendly area in England?

The annual report by The Family and Childcare Trust on family friendly trends in local authority areas across England

There are 7.9 million families with dependent children in the UK. Most of them successfully raise their children, although some families struggle with parenting.

Drawing on ideas about resilience, developed by those working with vulnerable families, families need certain protective factors to enable them to withstand stress and to thrive (Rutter, 1985; Lexmond, 2011). These are attributes or resources that help families withstand stress and achieve good outcomes. Although interrelated these factors can be grouped into a number of areas:

1. Personal and family attributes, such as parenting skills.
2. A decent income and opportunities for social mobility
3. Access to family friendly work
4. High quality public services, such as schools and healthcare
5. A family friendly infrastructure, particularly housing and transport.

We have attempted to measure these ‘family friendly’ factors in this local report card. It examines trends towards becoming family friendly in England and accompanies our National Report Card for 2015. We have analysed 27 different sets of statistics that relate to wellbeing, income and poverty, employment, public
services, housing and infrastructure. The analysis of the family friendly indicators was then collated and used to rank each local authority area, according to how family friendly we judged it to be.

It is also important to stress that we are not just grading public services and local authorities. While the quality of schools, primary healthcare and other public service
has a big impact on family wellbeing and outcomes, there are many other conditions that largely lie outside the control of local authorities and other public services.
These include indicators that relate to income and employment. Generally deprived areas scored lower across a range of family friendly indicators, reflecting the challenges these areas face. But our analysis also highlighted a number of deprived areas that scored well on some indicators – for example, many deprived local authorities in London score well on education.

Our local and national report cards are published at an important time. All the mainstream political parties went into the 2015 general election with significant pledges for families and a new government is the opportunity to turn these proposals into action to help families. Since the election, the Government has announced many changes in policy that affect families, in particular, increasing the hours of free childcare and changes to tax credits.

It is also a year since the Government announced that all new laws or government policies will be subject to the ‘Family Test’ to make sure they support strong and
stable families (Department for Work and Pensions, 2014). It is an important time to audit family policy. We hope that the local and national report cards are a useful tool for those who want to work to make this country more family friendly.