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How should families be supported?

The big three parties are setting out their plans to support families - expected to be a key election battleground. What family policies do you want?

Labour says it will change the law so grandparents will not need court permission to see grandchildren if the parents divorce. And will support new fathers by publishing a "Guide for New Dads".

Conservative families spokesman David Willetts said the Tories were looking at the best way of "helping marriage through the tax system".

Liberal Democrat families spokesman David Laws said it would be better to direct funds at helping children through the education system.

Would you welcome a guide for new dads? Are tax breaks for married couples a good idea? Would it be better to invest in the education system?

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Published: Wednesday, 20 January, 2010, 10:57 GMT 10:57 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 17:07 GMT 17:07 UK

I want to see something that stops punishing single people. I don't see why I have to pay for those that choose to have children. If you can't afford to have children without the hand-outs, then you can't afford to have them. Simple logic.

sparky smith

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 17:07 GMT 17:07 UK

When I had my two children I think you got seven shillings and sixpence for the second child, but if you had a very modest wage they took it of you in tax, and it was said at the time that that was the way it was supposed to work a direct deduction from the mans wages to give to the mother. Now why cant they do that now instead of giving money to millionaires who don't need it and never pay their full whack anyway.

jim maguire, newcastle upon tyne, United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 17:07 GMT 17:07 UK

We need to stop rewarding people for having lots of kids, I think that after two children then benefits should be greatly reduced. This might but a few spongers back into work instead of staying at home making babies for a living.
There are already more than enough people on the planet.

Jon, Manchester

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 17:05 GMT 17:05 UK

For all those claiming that people should be discouraged from having children you are overlooking one major demographic fact - The population is living longer and there are more of us which means that unless the birth rate catches up there will not be enough people of a working age to support the elderly.

Dave Henshall, United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 17:04 GMT 17:04 UK

"I've never known anyone get time off for school events without taking it out of their annual leave.

Anne Murray, Chester"

I was once refused leave in August to attend the Three Choirs Festival because "people with children might need leave that month" and I thought then and think now that that was grossly unfair.

Andrew, London

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 17:02 GMT 17:02 UK

Simple answer is to bring back the married couples allowance and make each personal allowance transferable. Now before I get comments back about marriage- I am getting sick of the me me approach. The individuality plan is a complete failure and we see the end result every day. A family is a team, a survival unit committed to each other. That is not religious nonsense- that is pure survival. The religion side I can take or leave. Cut the tax bill, then we can save for ourselves.

Tony Jackson, Welling

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:56 GMT 16:56 UK

Having children is a selfish act. Adopting or not having children is responsible as there are just too many people for the world's resources to support.
Helen Seymour, Hull, United Kingdom.

Of course it is, its what drives us as animals; in fact its the primary reason for being here. The survival of our offspring is just as much an issue as it is for the animal world. The reason so many are born is to ensure that some survive. You point is?

Tony Jackson, Welling

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:52 GMT 16:52 UK

"As a single, childless person I'm tired of seeing others getting preferential treatment simply because they *choose* to have kids. I don't see why I should help pay for their lifestyle choice, any more than they'd want to see their taxes help pay for mine.

Richard, Southampton"

What preferential treatment? What lifestyle choice? It's an essential choice. What do you want? A world with no kids? No future workforce to pay your state pension? My tax pays for your NHS care & I don't complain.

Dave, Place that isn't selfish

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:46 GMT 16:46 UK

Can I take it that all those people complaining that having children is burden on the world's resources are planning to berate their own parents for having them, loving them and bringing them up?

Remember infertility is genetic, if your parents didn't have children, chances are you won't either.

Martin Allen, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:45 GMT 16:45 UK

For all the contributions on the HAVE YOUR SAY site
no bodies listening

(Binbag the sailor, United Kingdom)


Pardon?

Carl O, Eldwick

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:43 GMT 16:43 UK

Interesting to see how many people define a family in terms of 'parent(s) and children'. 'Family' is much broader and more complex than that.

[mcclure1], United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:41 GMT 16:41 UK

Kate, Bristol - who exactly is going to provide your old age care if not today's children? Who is going to be producing and cooking the food you'll eat in your nursing home? Who will provide medical care? And make your clothes? And keep the lights on? And maintain the fabric of the building? And ensure you have a funeral and not just rot where you died?

I'll tell you. Today's children. Though you would have to admire their willingness, going by the ignorant and selfish comments here.

[politicallyincorrect], Leeds, UK of A, United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:39 GMT 16:39 UK

Government interferanc in 'Family Life' has (in my opinion) been disasterous .The.Interest they have taken in young People ( the future of our Country), runs 'hot and cold' like the weather.Education Fees Child Allowances, all the subject of a Covernment 'Whim'............I seriously believe, the Government should stay out of Family affairs alltogether. To allaviate problems that arise in family life,they say the Government assists,then go on to say 'they can't afford it' is a nonsense!
Cyclops

Peter Short, Birmingham, United Kingdom

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:37 GMT 16:37 UK

If there is a need for new people to enter the workforce, why are there 2.5 million people currently unemployed? Why are youths between 16 and 20 suffering such high unemployment? If work cannot be found for them, how can the economy be said to 'need' new blood?

SSSS, Birmingham

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Added: Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 16:37 GMT 16:37 UK

Oh not this old chestnut again!

I'm paying for my own pension. AND I'm paying for other people's children to be educated, fed, and looked after. Do I get a rebate? No, I don't even get a return on my "investment" - just breeders telling me that I should be grateful!

By the way, it's childFREE not childLESS.

sara, london

you sound like a terribly bitter woman... thankgod you dont want kids, i certainly wouldnt want you as a mother.

Lynsey

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