Proposed changes to Sunday trading legislation could have a negative impact on families, according to research from the Social Market Foundation.

The Social Market Foundation has examined plans to devolve Sunday trading powers to local authorities using the Prime Minister’s ‘family test’, which he launched in 2014 for all new laws going through Parliament.

In applying the government’s own guidance for the test, the research found that the plans raise significant risks to family life and the countervailing benefits are likely to be small. The government itself has so far disregarded the ‘family test’ in proposing the changes.

Emran Mian, Director of the Social Market Foundation, said: “The risks to family life posed by the Government’s proposed changes to Sunday trading regulations are significant. Retail is already a sector where staff are working long and atypical hours, and working for longer on Sundays will hurt families by stopping them from spending time together.

“While the family test was introduced with a lot of fanfare, it looks like the Government will fail to implement the test on the first big issue where it is relevant.”

Church of England director of mission and public affairs, Malcolm Brown said: “The churches have worked for decades to build a society where individuals, families and communities support each other through voluntary action. That kind of mutual support is damaged when working patterns encroach on common leisure time. When shared time for families is eroded, wider commitment to the community suffers too. The extension of Sunday trading will make the big society an unachievable mirage.”

Relationships Foundation director John Ashcroft said: “When the Prime Minister first announced his plans for a Family Test on policy he said that if a policy 'stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it'.

It is essential that the Prime Minister demonstrates that the test has real influence on policy decisions, particularly those that will reduce the time parents are able to spend with children.”