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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Which party is best for families?
Parties are campaigning for the votes of families with young children as well as pensioners.

Labour's Gordon Brown will make a speech outlining the party's policy on education and childcare.

The Tories are set to focus on older voters with a pledge to restore the earnings link for pensions.

The latest YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph has indicated that Labour is ahead on 38%, with the Tories on 33%, the Liberal Democrats on 22% and other parties on 7%.

Which of the parties has the best policy for families and retired people? Will it affect your vote?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

None of the main political parties understand that we need to support young families more, especially as the cost of decent housing is so high. There are so many young professional couples out there who would make absolutely brilliant parents, yet cannot afford to because they have jobs in areas where housing costs are very high.
Liam, Worcester

As a father of young children I want to see vast improvements in education and healthcare, a clampdown on so-called petty crime, less encouragement of drug use and less availability of alcohol. Oh, and more focus on making parents accountable for the actions of their teenage children. Are Labour the party to address these issues? I think not.
Les, Essex

Labour has always had a constant and compassionate policy for families and retired people. Actions speak louder than words and the last eight years are testimony to Labour's commitment to families. The other parties are trying to discredit Labour but this will not stand objective scrutiny.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

Which party is best for my family? The only party which puts my children's future ahead of votes today - the Greens.
Adam , Edinburgh

If you look at all the party's manifestoes, the overriding theme is to give plenty to the scroungers, the pensioners and the high earners by squeezing the middle income group. They are less likely to vote because they are fed up with being screwed all the time.
Michael Goode, Bishop Auckland

In answer to Bev from West Sussex: you can stay at home with your young children. I wanted to do the same thing so I registered as a childminder. I'm at home for my child, whilst still working and helping the economy, and at the same time, I'm creating childcare places for parents who want to go out to work.
Julie, UK

To Julie, UK: I would love to work and have more money. However, my children's needs come first. If you are child minding you cannot be spending as much time with your children than if you were not. Unfortunately, the current society looks down on stay-at-home mothers and does not appreciate the help they provide for their children.
C Smith, Fleet

We have seen evidence of Labour turning words into action over the last seven years
Chris, Surrey
Childless people who whinge need to remember who it is that will one day grow into the adult doctors, nurses, care workers, radiologists etc. who will look after them in their old age. Are they going to live on an island alone? All the political parties need to do more than they are currently promising for families and pensioners. But at least we have seen evidence of Labour turning words into action over the last seven years - something the Tories never did.
Chris, Surrey

Labour is the party best for Families, because they outlined their policy in detail.
Justus Okwuonu, London

I think Labour have been the best for families and will continue to be so. I am a single parent, working and using childcare. If I was living under a Tory government I feel absolutely certain that I would not be working, as there would be no affordable quality childcare. For years Britain lagged behind the rest of Western Europe in provision for working families and in particular child care and education in the early years, thanks mainly to the Tories. Lower income earners and single parents in particular were marginalised and stigmatised by them. On the one hand we were spongers but on the other hand we did not have the support or the services to enable us to earn a living. We are providing for the next generation and they in turn will provide for us so if we don't put the quality services in place for them, society will suffer more in the future. It's ridiculous for childless people to complain that they lose out to those with families - should we all stop having kids and then see what happens? I certainly don't complain about my taxes contributing to services for other peoples kids.
Sarah, Stirling

I personally like the Conservatives' policy of offering a choice between 6 and 9 month maternity pay - this will allow individual flexibility whilst making sure that those who need to return to work earlier aren't financially disadvantaged. The Lib Dems proposal to scrap the CSA is also attractive, considering my personal experience of their incompetence. Overall though, I think the Conservatives have the edge, especially as they pledge to restore the link between pensions and earnings.
J, Leicester

Don't get me wrong, families are important, and I hope to have one myself one day. But as a single person, working full-time, paying through the nose to live in private rented accommodation because it is impossible to get onto the property ladder, I feel increasingly ignored by politicians. Where's the help for hard working taxpayers who don't happen to have children?
Sam, Sheffield, UK

I wouldn't trust the Tories to run the economy or the country
Stanley Chung, Stevenage, Herts
I wouldn't trust the Tories to run the economy or the country. Since Labour came to power they have done more for the country than when the Tories were in power. If the people vote the Tories in, they will be making a big mistake.
Stanley Chung, Stevenage, Herts

Those who complain about families should consider that families are consumers and drive the economy forward, from the purchase of nappies to placing children in childcare. How many jobs does this create? And how much tax do those people then pay?
Q, Surrey

It's all very well banging on about more childcare places but what about supporting parents who want to do what's best for their young children (see all the international research)and stay at home for the first few years?
Bev, West Sussex, UK

The current system encourages state dependency and discourages people from working
Lance, Hertford
People seem to assume that because you have children you get lots of state handouts, I frequently have to make it clear to people that as a married couple we get nothing except the basic child benefit and have been penalised by the NI increases, massive council tax hikes etc just like everyone else and have been made considerably worse off given that our salaries have not risen in line with increased taxes. Maybe we should split up if Labour gets re-elected!! The current system encourages state dependency and discourages people from working.
Lance, Hertford

If I was shacked up with a woman, was unemployed/low paid and had kids I would go for Labour/Lib Dems. Not hard to see how some people prefer the bliss of family life to single tax, toil.
James, Cornwall, UK

With the Labour Party taking out the married couple allowance replacing with child tax credit, I will never vote for them. I don't work but my husband does. We do not qualify for child tax credit so this system is not for us. Bring back the married couple allowance and I will vote for them.
Salina, Watford

The Labour tax credits system is just unbelievable
S J Waldock, London, UK
The Labour tax credits system is just unbelievable; it does nothing for people on a middle income when it comes to childcare, you need to earn less than 15,000 per year to benefit. Childcare in London affordable if you earn 20,000? I don't think so.
S J Waldock, London, UK

Lib Dems will hurt families more than help them. Their policies are undefined and cater to special segments of the population. Tories offer the best choice.
Charlie DaTuna, Hull

With so many people complaining about having to pay for other peoples children, I would like to point out that it is those children who will be paying the taxes for your pensions and health care when you're the drain on society.
Vicky, Colchester

The Conservatives claim to be for the family but which one? From listening to Michael Howard's speeches it would seem only those that can afford to be Conservative.
Peter Wyatt, Rochester, UK

The Tories are the only ones who truly believe in the importance of the family. Statistics show that kids without both parents tend to suffer, so when Labour's policies are making parents contemplate divorce for tax reasons, how can they claim to care for the family?
Harry Paget, Kent

The Lib Dems have the best policies for families and retirement because they focus on fairness
David, Halesowen
Of the big three, clearly the Lib Dems have the best policies for families and retirement because they focus on fairness. I have four children and their prospects will be dependent upon the affordability of University education. Will if affect my vote? No, because my conscience vote is against this Labour government and, with this unfair voting system, I can only express my opinion in this constituency by voting for the Conservatives.
David, Halesowen, England

I would be particularly interested to know if any of the parties promise to sort out the complicated way in which child benefit and child tax credits are handled. Our family receives both and we keep getting letters which neither add up nor make any sense. We find it a very time wasting process and believe it must also be costing the government. I personally would vote for any party which promised to tackle this problem.
Lee Hills, Nottingham

New Labour and the Lib Dems encourage and promote state dependence - this in turn justifies the massive interfering state they dream of controlling. If you want kids and want them to respect you in later life, then fund them yourself - how can you promote a positive social work ethic to your children if you have lived on handouts all of their lives?
Roger, Whitwick, England

The tax proposals of Veritas would take ten million people out of tax altogether. This will be of the greatest benefit to hard working families, particularly those who work part time.
David Heather, London

I am 61 and was made redundant last year. My home is my own and I receive a small pension which I contributed to from my 21st birthday. As much as I try I cannot get a job and apart from unemployment pay for the first few months the state will give me nothing, I am classed as self sufficient and not in need. We hear about all the parties wanting to give more to the young and the old, what about us in the middle who have paid all dues and demands throughout our lives and now get nothing?
Charles Brockley, Norwich, Gt. Britain

Spongers get richer with every kid they have
Steve Fenwick, Yeovil
Under Labour, the people who are most likely to have responsible children who inherit a work ethic from their responsible parents are the people who are penalised most. It's hardly surprising that there is a looming pension crisis. Spongers get richer with every kid they have, while earners get poorer.
Steve Fenwick, Yeovil

The way I see it is that governments have to deal with both "causes" and "consequences". One consequence faced at the moment is the need for both parents to work to support the family finances. Therefore the children suffer. Labour have come up with their solution which you either agree with or don't. As it happens, I don't. However, what about the causes and tackling them? None of the parties comment at all about that. It is possible to fish people out of the river, but it is more important to go upstream and see what's throwing them in to start with. That is the big issue and its not being addressed.
Richard, St Albans, England

If the computer system mandated by the Children Act 2004 turns out to be as shambolic as those used for the CSA, the Tax Office or the Passport Office, the Labour Party will have been very bad for children indeed.
Simon Richardson, London

I am a 67 year old. I have brought up my now 13 year old grandson without any "baby bonds", child assistance etc. I also looked after my son who has suffered during the past year with cancer, kidney problems and a fractured spine - again without any financial help. I am also 1.50 over the limit to claim tax credit. If I were to turn them both out on the street, they would be re-housed and would receive many benefits. This is a "grey area" according to the DHSS and needs to be addressed. I am sure I am not the only one in this situation. Not one representative from any party can give me a reply as to why I cannot receive some form of financial help.
Margaret Wyatt, Lancashire

My Girlfriend and I are in our mid 30's and we have no kids, we own our own house and both work full time. It appears that all we will get is more tax to pay for all the families who get a tax credits. Families are the group who will need schools and hospitals so should pay more for the public services. I would like something back for not being a burden on the public purse, and for not receiving any benefits. If people can't afford to have kids then they shouldn't have them. Or, benefits should be limited to one child per family.
Chris Weston, Lincolnshire

Blair and Brown have let their personal views as parents have too strong an influence on policy, by diverting too much from those without children, to those with. It's time to redress this balance and remember that having children is a lifestyle choice and not something the state should subsidise.
Rory, London

I understand that some parents wish to stay at home and look after their children, but some don't. I love my child but I also like my job. Labour has made it possible for my husband and I to work and afford to have someone professional look after our child while we do. It makes the time we have together as a family all the more special. The Conservatives want women back in the kitchen - for some that's fine, but I want more, and I don't want to be made to feel like a bad parent because of it.
Sam May, Brechin, Scotland

Unless thousands of the world's top scientists are wrong, climate change means our kids and grandkids are heading into a monstrous environmental future. I'm voting Green - people's obsession with cash bribes to families make me despair of the wit of the average British voter.
Denis Murphy, Birmingham

We're sick of being forced to subsidise the procreation of others
Ian, Bradford
As a hard working couple without children, we're sick of being forced to subsidise the procreation of others - especially when the most creative tend to be those with greatest dependence on the state in the first place.
Ian, Bradford

As a serviceman's wife and mother of three, I would vote for anyone who promises not to pick a war where it doesn't need to be fought so our overstretched armed forces can have a breather and spend time with their families. Moving regularly at short notice, I would like to be able to choose a school rather than take the only one in the area with three places!
Eliza, Bucks

With Labour we get rising crime and MRSA and the Lib Dems would abolish mandatory life sentences for murder and rape whilst opening up drugs to more. A father's first duty is to safeguard his family, so I will be voting Conservative.
Chris Hunt, Ashtead,

There are lots of voters out there who don't have young families. I brought up my two children in the 70s and 80s as a single parent and paid my way without any benefits. Now that my children are in their thirties, where does that leave me? I'm paying massive amounts of tax and working extremely long hours just to get a half decent standard of living. I'm not at all happy at having to pay so much tax to support other people's children, when I've already raised my own family. I took the view that my children were my responsibility, why can't today's families do the same?
Barbara, Kent

Islington council under Liberal Democrat control have increased the cost of after school and holiday childcare by over 100% in the last two years. If this is an example of the Lib Dems policy then they are most certainly not the best party for families.
Andrew Berry, Islington, London

What about hard working families without young children?
Andy, Bury, Lancs
What about hard working families without young children? All my family work hard, the children are in their 20s and we have no one who will represent us!
Andy, Bury, Lancs

Due to the nursery vouchers policy I will be over 1000 better off this year. My son will also benefit from the complete rebuilding of his school over the next 2 years. Don't risk all this investment by bringing the Tory cuts back. It's their lack of investment that caused the need to rebuild facilities in schools.
Mark, Ealing

What about acknowledging single people and childless couples, rather than wasting our taxes on 'baby bonds' which many future teenagers will waste on clothes and holidays?
Catherine, Flitwick, Beds

It's hard to see my grandfather who was a soldier in World War Two being treated so badly by the current government in terms of pensions. The parties need to focus on the family at all times of their lives.
Robert Taylor, Bognor Regis

If you want to have children you should expect to make some sacrifices
LM, London
My family is far better off now than we were under the Tories. I have decided not to work while my children are still young, but if I wanted to work I would be able to due to the help towards childcare that is now available. State education has improved massively in the last few years. Schools that I would never have considered sending my children to have been completely turned around. Parents have the choice whether to both work or not. You don't have to buy a house! You could live in a council or housing association property. Owning a house is a not a necessity. If you want to have children you should expect to make some sacrifices.
LM, London

I won't be voting Labour, I'm married with two children but can't afford to buy a house even though my husband and I earn relatively well. We have both just been given small pay rises, but no doubt if Labour win, it will disappear in a puff of smoke.
Lisa, UK

My vote will go to whichever party agrees that mothers with children should not have to go to work as well as running the home. I do not see the point in children having to go to childminders when you could look after them yourself. I would work part time if I could work within school hours, but this is only possible if you work for a school!
Julie, Bridlington, East Yorkshire

The Labour are the anti-family party
Andrew Fitton, Leeds
Having a stranger bring up a child cannot be good for the child or the family. So why does Labour encourage both parents to work, by presiding over the dreadful rise in house prices and rewarding two working parents? We should encourage one parent to be there for their offspring. The Labour are the anti-family party.
Andrew Fitton, Leeds

You have to consider what you want out of society. Under a Labour government you will get more direct pay if you are on a low income, but with a Conservative government your children will be safer on the street and get better education due to a reduction in disruptive pupils.
Gus Eldridge, Norwich

I'm a member of a hard working family and I'm definitely worse off under Labour.
Martin, UK

They all talk about working mums but none of them address stay-at-home mums. A couple of years ago our joint wage was lower than my husband's current wage but our take home salary was a lot more. My husband took a well paid job with longer hours so I could stop work and care for our children. However, the tax system penalises this by not allowing non-working partners to transfer their tax allowance.
Caron, England

I'm voting for the party that rewards hard work and responsible breeding habits
Chris, UK
I am in neither of the above groups and so am voting for the party that rewards hard work and responsible breeding habits. Unfortunately, there isn't one.
Chris, UK

Since coming to power, Labour has done everything possible to pull the rug from under the conventional, stable, married family. Instead, they have dished out money to all manner of minority groups. In contrast, the Conservatives are proposing long-term support for the traditional family. I know which way I'll be voting.
Jay W, Cheshire

As a father of three, I believe it is mine and my wife's responsibility to raise our children in the best way possible. To this end my wife gave up work as a teacher to be a full time mum. The net result of this is that we don't have the latest wide screen TV or fancy new car as my income is reasonable but not vast. I feel like I am now paying a considerable chunk of tax to support families who want the new house or new car. Vote Conservative and put an end to unreasonable taxation.
Jonathan, Uxbridge

I find it amazing that we can receive 450 a month to pay for a stranger to look after our beautiful 5 month old daughter but for my wife to stay at home and raise her, we will only receive child benefit.
Rod Horwood, Aylebury

The problem is all parties expect both parents to work
Kev, UK
If you mean that children have to be left in a nursery all day so that a mother can slave at work to hand over half her wages to a childminder and the other half to fund a ridiculously high mortgage due to ridiculously high house prices, then I guess the Labour Party would be the choice. The problem is all parties expect both parents to work. Surely there is a link between the rise in both parents working and the rise in unruly kids.
Kev, UK

According to the Labour Party manifesto, families are on average 1400 better off under Labour. I'm not clear where they derive this figure from. My wife is a teacher and I work part-time as a computer programmer. The only benefit we receive for our two children is the universal child benefit which is saved to pay for university costs. We pay for things like school meals and uniforms out of our own pockets. We're happy to do this as it's our choice to have children but I'm sick of the Labour Party suggesting that we live in some sort of tax-friendly family nirvana.
Ken, North Tyneside

The Conservatives are promoting long-term financial independence while the rest are increasing dependency and the role of the nanny state. I'm a father with very small children. I don't see why others should be forced to subsidise me. Vote Conservative.
Mark, London

Under Labour our family experience has been one of diminished disposable income and an unacceptable level of education in the state system. Any party which intends to increase the tax burden, fails to review the entire failing system of public services and fails to provide assistance for those seeking greater financial freedom to opt out of these failing services has nothing to offer us. At present it is the Conservatives that appear to offer a more attractive view.
Andy D, Oxford