More than half of people in Yorkshire believe family life is harder than it was 20 years ago, according to a new poll.

In a YouGov poll of 2,000 people, commissioned by the charity 4Children, 61 per cent of people in the region say public services should be aimed at families and more than a third of these say services need to be “dramatically changed”.

More than one in five don’t think their neighbourhood is a good place for children to grow up; over half believe family life is harder than it was 20 years ago; and four out of ten people believe today’s children will have a worse life than their parents.

Today, 4Children launches it manifesto, Making Britain Great for Children and Families, in the House of Commons. It calls for a re-shape of public services, spaces and workplaces in response to “dramatic changes to modern family life”.

The charity wants national and local leaders to sign up to a Family Commitment which would include:

  • A Family Test across national and local government to ensure policies are family- friendly
  • A major overhaul of support for vulnerable families, including local, joined-up early help
  • A commitment to family- friendly planning and public spaces
  • A major house-building programme of affordable and social housing
  • Local, joined up help in every community through Children and Family Centres and Hubs for children 0–19 and their families
  • A comprehensive universal childcare guarantee from 0-14
  • Part-time and flexible working to become the norm, including flexible maternity and paternity leave

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children says: “Too many children and families are struggling today with limited potential and life chances as a result. Family life has changed beyond recognition over the past 30 years and our services and practices have often failed to keep up.

“We need to have a major shift in ambition if we’re going to make our communities great for families. If we want a country where families and children are valued and flourishing, then politicians and policy-makers and those providing public services and running businesses all need to change the way they listen and respond to what families really want.”

She adds: “We spend £9 billion a year on managing troubled families, £46 billion a year on family breakdown, and £29 billion a year on tackling child poverty, yet we could save £32,000 per family a year if crisis was averted.

“This is not just about more money, however, but about a revolution in how we run services and structures to find smarter ways to support family life. We need services that understand the speed and complexity of modern life and join together locally to offer families the support they need.”

Michelle Horne of Baildon is the mother of three boys, Dominic, eight, Alex, five and Matthew, four.

She says: “Sticking plaster actions to fix big family problems is ineffective and a waste of money. Effective support networks for families that can help from birth through to young adulthood is essential.

“What our young people really need are prospects! The knowledge that there are opportunities to start at the bottom and work up. When I was young I felt I could go anywhere, do anything, the world was, and still is, mine to conquer, but it seems the ladder has been pulled for many kids these days.

“In terms of reshaping communities, I think that really is a nonsense. Communities come in all shapes and sizes and I firmly hold the view that no matter where you are in the UK, you can find a community of people to suit you.”

Nicola Lamond from parenting website Netmums said: “Children are our future citizens and how they see the world now will shape how they run it when they grow up, so it’s worrying so few public services seem to be family friendly.

“Families are the bedrock of a community so more needs to be done to ensure they feel fully involved and able to access services aimed at them.

“On Netmums, Yorkshire is seen as one of the better places for children to grow up, with good schools and wonderful countryside, so there are plenty of plusses in the region. But with one in five saying their neighbourhood isn’t a good place for kids to grown up, it’s clear some areas need extra help.

“While most people accept the need for some cutbacks to pay down the deficit, cuts must be made wisely to avoid impacting on the most vulnerable young families who will seriously struggle without support.”