Prime minister David Cameron will chair a childhood and families ministerial taskforce, made up from ministers across several departments, which will attempt to make cost-effective improvements to young people’s lives.
Launching the taskforce at a Barnardo’s event, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said it was vital to unleash children’s potential in order to create a fair society. He said that more support for disabled children would be a key priority of the taskforce.
“We are realistic – it is not government’s job to create happy families,” he said. “Our job is to dismantle the barriers that prevent families from giving their children the best start.
“Where Labour nannied you, we will empower you. This government will make your choices possible.
“The role of this group will be to identify and prioritise a small number of specific policy proposals that will make the biggest difference to children and families.”
The taskforce will take forward proposals agreed in the coalition’s Programme for Government. Its work will be completed in the autumn in time for the comprehensive spending review.
Clegg named parental leave, greater support to disabled children, family support, improved play spaces and reducing pressure on children to grow up too quickly among his priorities.
With regard to disabled children, he recognised that many of their families were under huge pressure.
“That’s why the government agreed very early on that we would find a way of using direct payments to carers and better community-based care to give them more support,” he said.
He confirmed the government would invest £20m additional in respite care, starting in 2011-12, using money saved through the ending of government contributions to child trust funds.
In response, Jane Stacey, Barnardo’s deputy chief executive, said: “As money is tight, it is essential that this high level government task force prioritises support for the neediest families.”