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What do the parties offer voters with alternative lifestyles?

PUBLISHED: 11:19 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:47 25 August 2010

YOUNG working families are one of the main policy groups which parties are falling over themselves to attract but what about those who do not fit into the nuclear stereotype? Your Times takes a look at other key groups such as single parents, stay at ho

YOUNG working families are one of the main policy groups which parties are falling over themselves to attract but what about those who do not fit into the nuclear stereotype?

Your Times takes a look at other key groups such as single parents, stay at home mums and gay and lesbian voters to see what they want from the next government.

Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have all made policy announcements to appeal to young working families.

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have vowed to retain the working tax credits scheme introduced by Tony Blair's government in 1999, however they have both pledged to reform the troubled system.

And in a bid to appeal to the traditional Conservative vote, Cameron has promised to reward marriage by ending the couple penalty in the tax credit system.

Labour parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead Teresa Pearce was herself a single mum bringing up two children. She told the Times: "Labour has offered a lot for families.

"I brought up my children myself. Things like Sure Start really help families. You have to reach them early. It is hard to solve the problems when they have already happened.

"If you give people a chance in life then they can make the best of life. I was a single parent living in a council flat in Belvedere. It was a careers adviser who helped me secure a nursery place for my daughter, which helped me get a job in the civil service.

"When you help a family, you help the next generation as well.

Single parents charity Gingerbread, whose president is Harry Potter author JK Rowling, demand more recognition for the often demonised demographic.

The charity's Chief Executive Fiona Weir, said: "Politicians often talk about single parents but in the run-up to Election 2010 they really need to listen to them.

"We know that the family is going to be central to the election debates, and 1.9 million potential voters are parents raising their children alone. They want to know how their families will be protected and supported by the next government."

All three party leaders have signed up to Gingerbread's Let's Lose the Labels campaign to stop the stereotyping and stigmatisation of single parents.

The charity's members have vowed to monitor what parliamentary candidates are saying in the run up to the election.

Mother-of-two Vicki Allan, 33, from Chislehurst, h said: "I had a career break after my maternity leave and I got nothing, which I expected but when I went back to work, we got £300 to £400 a month in working tax credits. And to be honest, we didn't need them. It is the wrong way round. When you really need the help, when you want to spend more time with the kids, you don't get it. It is like the government is rewarding you for spending time away from your kids.

"With working tax credits, I have been overpaid, underpaid. And now I owe then £700."

Meanwhile Stonewall, the charity which works for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, demands full implementation of the Equality Act, including the public equality duty.

Its spokesperson said: "All too often lesbian, gay and bisexual people receive second-class treatment from public services.

"The proposed public sector equality duty is the missing piece in the jigsaw of full legal protection for gay people across Britain, complementing existing protections in employment and goods and services with a more proactive approach to tackling discrimination.

"Stonewall firmly believes that lesbian, gay and bisexual taxpayers should be able to approach the public services they help to fund with complete confidence.

"The new duty - replacing the current separate duties for race, disability and gender - could make a very real difference by encouraging public bodies actively to accommodate the needs of their gay service-users in the design and delivery of public services such as schools, policing and housing.

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