Think-tank tells Govt to back marriage

Couples considering having children should be encouraged to marry to give their kids the most stable upbringing, the Marriage Foundation think-tank has said.

The Foundation’s comments follow its response to the Government’s Family Stability Review on supporting stable families.

Harry Benson, from the group, said couples should be encouraged to marry and then supported through the early stages of marriage.

Stable

He said that if couples can stay together for ten years, “their children will have an 80 per cent chance of their family staying together for good”.

Benson noted that 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”.

Last year the think-tank said the percentage of family breakdowns from unmarried households was set to rise to 50 per cent of the total by the end of 2013 – despite such couples only making up around 19 per cent of parents.

Evidence

The think-tank was responding to a call for evidence from the Department for Work and Pensions, which is leading the Family Stability Review.

The review, which was gathering evidence until earlier this month, will make suggestions for future Government policy.

In its response the Foundation said the stability of marriage had remained largely unchanged since the 1960s.

Looking at divorce rates based on when couples got married, it found no major difference between the 60s and the present.

Breakdown

Benson said what is needed “is to encourage couples considering having a family to marry and then support them through the trouble-filled early stages”.

Last week one MP called for the Government to appoint a Cabinet Minister to coordinate between Government departments tackling family breakdown.

Fiona Bruce, a Conservative MP, said: “It feels as though there is no one in government waking up every morning thinking about this key social policy as a priority.”

Strengthen

At the same meeting, Andrew Selous MP urged for more to be done to “strengthen families”.

“It is about giving children the best start, reducing crime, doing better in schools and avoiding misery”, he said.

Last year the Centre for Social Justice said at least one million children are growing up without a father, and described the problem as “an ignored form of deprivation”.

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