Headlines: February 12th, 2002

The right-leaning Centre for Policy Studies has produced a report warning that government policies towards families are contributing to increased child neglect, social disintigration and failure to combat child poverty.’Broken Hearts – Family decline and the consequences for society’ argues that family stability is suffering a remorseless decline. It says that in Britain today there are more children born outside marriage, more teenage pregnancies and more children in poverty than at any time in history. Britain has the highest divorce rate in Europe, the highest proportion of teenage pregnancies in Europe; and the highest proportion of lone parents in Europe.

And it says recent moves in government to reduce the distinction between marriage and cohabitation ignore evidence such as that the children of both lone and cohabiting parents being more likely to suffer physical abuse than the children of married couples; to experience mental breakdown; to turn to drugs; to commit crime; and to run away from home. And, says the CPS study, a cohabiting couple is far less likely to remain together after the birth of a child than a married couple. The result, it says, is that the state has to intervene more often to compensate for the lack of a true family.

It calls for Britain to follow the example of many European countries, with fiscal policies supporting the family.

It says that in Britain, family commitments have become largely irrelevant to tax assessment, whereas in most of Europe adults with families to support are paying tax at much lower rates than single earners.

CPS website: www.cps.org.uk