At the beginning of the month, we sent a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and Pensions to get an update on the Families Test – a government initiative that was designed to ensure all relevant policy and legislation was “family friendly”, and we can now publish their reply.
Whilst the DWP have very kindly taken the time to answer our questions and offer some interesting insight into the initiative, a lot still needs to be done.
Since its inception last year, only three policies have been put through the Families Test, and one of these assessments appears at the time of writing, to be incomplete. When asked who was in charge of ensuring the Test was carried out, we were told simply that the Prime Minister “expects that it will be.”
To be fair, the DWP offer to bolster this approach by working with their colleagues and Cabinet officials to provide more information on the Test and to target policy which may be eligible for testing. Something though, you would have thought the DWP would be doing as of right at this point. And when we asked whether they were aware of any departments using a template of some kind to log the details of any policy tested against the Families Test, as suggested by the Test guidelines, we received an evasive response that did not even answer our question (see below for the actual reply).
But by far the most interesting answer to our query, is the DWP’s response to policy tested which does not meet the criteria set out in the Families Test. The DWP tells us, “If a potential negative impact is identified then it is for the policy team to bring this to the attention of Ministers and consider whether they should take mitigating action. ”
So there is no onus on anyone to really do anything. And we think that says it all.
You can view the questions we put to the DWP and their reply, below: