David Cameron has just been taking questions from callers to Radio 4, here are his paraphrased answers:
Proud single mother with two successful children: What is the 21st Century Conservative Party attitude to single mothers?
DC: Huge admiration, but evidence across society suggests that children do better with both a mother and father bringing them up. If there was ever a war against single mothers, the weapons have been put beyond use. You have to think about society more broadly. We don’t do enough to help parents stick together, a tax break for married parents would be a good thing. Some marriages should break up but fathers should on the whole stand by their responsibilities – we should hunt down dads who don’t pay Child Maintenance.
Oliver James’ psychological book on success and sanity, Affluenza, says children need more time with parents and less state-provided care. Is there a link between this and the UNICEF report? Would you support financial incentives for parents to stay at home with children under 3 years old?
DC: Wouldn’t necessarily make a link between the two. Support parents choice to stay at home if they want to, but it doesn’t fit with everybody’s lifestyle. I’d support transferring tax allowances from the non-working to the working parent, although I don’t like to describe stay-at-home parents as "non-working"! Sweden’s quality bonuses for families seem to work well.
Would you consider bringing back the
assisted places scheme to help children in failing inner-city schools?
Would you halve the size of secondary schools? Are you sending your
kids to state schools?
DC: Can’t promise the latter, but can make it easier for new schools
to be set up. If voluntary bodies and churches want to set up a school,
money should follow the decision of parents. Assisted places not the
way forward, amounts to helping people out of state sector and in to
private sector. Ivan, who has Cerebral Palsy, goes to a state special
school. Planning on sending Nancy to a state school in central London,
a church school in particular. I’m of the relevant faith, but am a fan
of church schools in general because you can build a relationship with
them through church. No plans for one year old Elwin, but hopefully a
local state school.
What will you do about the lack of affordable housing?
DC: Rung of ladder is rising faster than people can earn enough money to get on the bottom rung… extending home ownership is improtant. More rent-to-mortgage
schemes where you pay an increasing proportion of the mortgage are needed. Either from private or council houses, and not just
aimed at key workers. Inheritance tax isn’t the problem, but real division is between those who have
houses and those who don’t.
Will you have the courage to challenge climate change? Do you realise people are ready for a strong lead on it?
DC: It’s a big, growing concern that people have (stopped short of saying biggest). Bicycling twice a week now, rather than once. If there are going to be extra green taxes,
other taxes will be reduced to help families and to prove it isnt
about increasing income.
Do you advocate binding targest to reduce traffic and increase cycling and walking?
DC: Local councils should make local decisions that help environment. Cultural change more powerful than binding central targets.
Would you make it easier to buy micro-generating windmills for homes by giving grants before they are bought and easing the need for planning permission?
DC: Go to QualityOfLifeChallenge.com with ideas. There are simple schemes in Germany where you get
a grant for having a green home. (Didnt answer question from presenter
about India and China making these schemes irrelevant).