Family break-up is leading to social crisis, MP warns

A Labour MP has warned that the fallout society faces from family breakdown is just as dramatic as the present financial crisis.

Frank Field identified the 1950s as the “peak years for Britain being a peaceful and self-governing kingdom” and blamed bad parenting for increasing levels of violent crime.

In a lecture given last night, he praised the work of Conservative social policy researchers and MPs Iain Duncan Smith and Graham Allen looking at the importance of supporting family life, which he described as “outstanding”.

He said families were the best place for developing “a sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions, a thoughtfulness for others and a growing sense of self-government”.

He warned that the “social crisis we are facing is every bit as dramatic as the economic recession into which we are entering.

“Indeed this recession has been steadily building up over decades in this country.”

Children of separated parents are far more likely to display negative outcomes in areas like educational achievement, mental health and future relationships.

Yet increasing numbers of children are suffering from the breakdown of their families. Almost half of all children are now born to cohabiting parents, and one in four of these will see their parents split up before they reach five.

Earlier this month Mr Duncan Smith said that tragedies like the death of Baby P – a 17-month-old child whose abuse at the hands of his mother and her live-in boyfriend led to his death – highlighted the need for the drastic reform of social policy relating to families.

“This shocking case should lead to yet another full-scale public inquiry,” Mr Duncan Smith said. “Yet all of this deals with the symptoms rather than the cause.

“Dysfunctional family life lies at the heart of the problem.

Mr Duncan Smith called on “all political parties to put aside their differences to get to grips with this current crisis in care and to focus their attention on family breakdown”.