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Task force 'to improve childhood'

A new Government task force was being launched with a remit to strip away the barriers to a happy childhood and successful family life.

A widely discussed Unicef report in 2007 named Britain as the worst place in the industrialised world for a child to grow up because of problems such as poverty, limited time with parents and exposure to risky activities like smoking, drinking and underage sex.

The new Childhood and Families Ministerial Task Force, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron and launched by his deputy Nick Clegg, will aim to identify specific policy proposals which can improve life for children and families in a cost-effective way.

Announcing the initiative in a speech at an event organised by Barnardo's in central London, Mr Clegg was to say: "This Government believes that we strengthen our society by giving people the power to make choices over their lives.

"We believe in the informal networks between people that provide families with support, as well as the strong sense of community identity that helps make children feel secure. So it should come as no surprise that this agenda is being driven from the heart of government.

"This group will identify specific policy proposals that will make the biggest difference to children and families, tackling a hardcore of everyday bottlenecks that frustrate family life to give parents the freedom they need in the first place."

The task force is due to report its conclusions at around the end of the year.

Alongside Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, its members will include Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, children's minister Sarah Teather, science and universities minister David Willetts, public health minister Anne Milton and economic secretary to the Treasury Justine Greening.

Shadow children's secretary Ed Balls said: "This Government can have no credibility on improving the life chances of children and families when they are cutting child trust funds, youth jobs, university places, free school meals for poorer families, and successful programmes to tackle teenage pregnancy and youth crime. And this is before proposals to cut child benefit and school breakfast clubs.

"The fact they've abolished the post of Secretary of State for Children tells you everything about the priorities of this new Government."


From Belfast Telegraph