Family Stability Review Recommendations
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Published 6th March
The first recommendations in response to Iain Duncan-Smith’s
Family Stability Review, launched to gather ideas on how to keep
families together, have now been published. The Marriage Foundation,
founded by High Court Family Judge Sir Paul Coleridge, has said that
the government should encourage marriage and try harder to get couples
to stay together while their children are young.
Their report said that a drive to persuade couples to marry
rather than simply live together would help combat high break-up rates
since cohabiting couples account for half of all family breakdown.
The report also said that 50% of family breakdown happens
before a couple’s child reaches its second birthday, but once couples
reach the ten-year mark, outside factors seem to have less effect on
whether they stay together. State spending should therefore concentrate
on families with young children, as this is when family relationships
are under the greatest pressure.
The Marriage Foundation’s Harry Benson said: ‘There is little
point in the Government attempting to improve the stability of
established marriages. Approximately as many married couples who stuck
it out between 1960 and 1970 are still together as those who married in
2000 and made it to 2010, despite the many social and cultural changes
in that period.
What we need to do instead is to encourage couples considering
having a family to marry and then support them through the
trouble-filled early stages. If they can make their marriage work for
ten years, their children will have an 80 per cent chance of their
family staying together for good.’
Mr Benson recognised that many people object to the government
trying to influence personal decisions, but felt that currently the
government is discouraging commitment: ‘Currently, there is a couple
penalty on all partners who share a home. It can cost parents with one
child up to £7,100 a year in lost tax credits the moment they move into
together. So the Government is incentivising couples not to commit.
Meanwhile it is spending more than the entire defence budget on the
costs of family breakdown, £46billion including court fees, child
truancy, juvenile delinquency and related incidents of crime.
No less important is the unseen personal impact on the lives
of our young people. The effects of family instability in early years
continue to be felt decades later.
It may be difficult politically to be seen to favour married
couples, but the focus should be on children and giving parents
incentives to create the most stable possible environment for bringing
up their families.’
Written by James
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-03-21 14:18:37 in Legal Articles