DAVID Cameron has denied the Government’s offer of free parenting classes is a “nanny state policy”.
The Prime Minister said it was ludicrous that people had to train before they were allowed to drive a car but could bring up a baby with no practice at all.
Vouchers for £100 worth of parenting classes are now on offer from high street chemist Boots and health professionals to parents of children aged up to five in three trial areas.
It is designed to provide “regular, relevant and tailored” advice such as videos of midwives demonstrating bathing and other techniques, plus advice from other parents.
Initially the parenting classes will be piloted in Middlesbrough, Camden in north London and High Peak, Derbyshire , but they could be extended throughout England if successful.
As well as parenting classes, subsidised relationship support sessions will also be piloted from July for all expectant parents and those with children up to the age of two.
The project will be tested in York, Leeds, North Essex, the City of London and the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Westminster, with up to £1m made available for the trial.
Mr Cameron said: “Parents are nation-builders. It’s through love and sheer hard work that we raise the next generation with the right values. That’s why this Government is doing everything possible to support parents. This is not the nanny state – it’s the sensible state.”
Labour MP Frank Field, who was a Welfare Minister in Tony Blair’s government, said: “I’ve never met a young person who has said: ‘I want to be a poor parent’, and yet we have increasing numbers of them turning out to be poor parents.
“It is the job of the state to kick-start activities which in the past would be done by families and civil society.”
Comment: Page 16.