'These rules patronise women and marginalise men. It is an Edwardian system.'
by Sophie McKay
This morning, speaking at the launch of the new Demos report, The Home Front, Nick Clegg proposed a Big Society approach to parenting, arguing that 'social progress doesn’t have to be driven from Whitehall.'
He described the report as 'very human-rooted in texture.'
He revealed how one of the major objectives of the Coalition is flexible working. Changes to flexible working laws will help to nurture better parenting and further gender equality. Talking about current legislation and the disproportionate share of work and domestic labour between men and women he said that, 'these rules patronise women and marginalise men. It is an Edwardian system.'
He suggested men need to be actively encouraged to take up paternity leave and take a flexible working approach. The Government will be launching a consultation to investigate and promote shared parenting. It will ensure that women’s guaranteed rights to maternity leave are maintained but aims to transform fathers’ opportunities. Amongst the many measures considered will be 'use it or lose it' paternity leave, which has been shown to be very successful internationally and is recommended in our report.
The Deputy Prime Minister then explained how social mobility was the primary objective of the Coalition Government. Further to this, in agreement with the report, he stated that 'good parenting is absolutely central to social mobility.'
He embraced the need for the Government to help make this a reality, but acknowledged that there was no blanket approach to facilitating this.
'There are no magic wand solutions', he said.
He went on to explain that previous Government policy had struggled in this area as it tried to fit parents round policy, which simply does not work. Instead policy should focus on opening up parents’ options, without telling people how to be good parents.
'We don't want to make your decisions for you', he said.
Explaining the benefits of working both financially and in shaping parents as good role models, Mr Clegg suggested that many of the Coalition's policies, notably the introduction of the Universal Credit, would help to lower workless parenting.