The Somerset Guardian, 3rd October 2018
During this year’s Conservative Party Conference, I introduced an event where the topic for discussion was family policy.
Family policy does not have a good name in the United Kingdom (UK). It is linked to John Major’s “Back to Basics”. In the past the approach was too judgemental and unsympathetic to personal circumstances. Single parents, 90% of whom are women, often battle against considerable difficulties and need support and understanding. It is not the role of the Government to tell people how to live their lives or to determine that one way is better than another but it is reasonable to help people lead the lives they want to lead.
The figures for the UK are some of the worst in the developed world. Only two thirds of children live with both parents until the age of fourteen compared with the OECD average of 84%. This has an effect on mental health, where over half the cases that arise describe family problems. According to the Centre for Social Justice, seven out of ten offenders come from broken homes and single parent families are twice as likely to live in poverty.
The Government’s role ought to change from being harmful to being supportive. Benefits should be fair between single parent families and couples and housing policy needs to helpful as well. Society clearly benefits from strong families, especially if it reduces the power of the State. Individuals are happier and loneliness is reduced. It is where Government policy ought to go and the sooner the better.