THE declining importance of marriage in society is deemed to be
a "bad thing" by the public, a new poll commissioned by the think
tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) suggests. It is embarking
on a "forensic examination" of the "fundamental causes of
Launched on Wednesday of last week, the study, Breakthrough
Britain II, continuing into 2014, will explore the five causes of
poverty identified by the Centre in its first report, commissioned
by David Cameron and published in 2007: welfare dependency, family
breakdown, educational failure, drug and alcohol addiction, and
serious personal debt.
Of the 1722 people surveyed in November, 31 per cent said that
having two parents at home was most important for children to have
when growing up. Forty-six per cent cited a safe community and
environment. Six per cent chose having enough money. Sixty per cent
agreed that "Marriage has become less important and this is a bad
thing." Fifty-two per cent agreed that "If we want to have any hope
of mending our broken society, family and parenting is where we've
got to start."
Poverty campaigners expressed caution about CSJ's message.
Liam Purcell, of Church Action on Poverty, said on Thursday of
last week: "We are alarmed that, certainly in some quarters, people
in poverty are being blamed for [their] poverty by messages that
they are doing something wrong. We are facing an economy where
there is very little work available, and the work that is available
doesn't pay. Family breakdown is in many cases a consequence of
The chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, Alison
Garnham, said: "The main cause of child poverty today is having a
parent who is a security guard, cleaner, care worker, or any one of
the five million jobs in Britain today that pay less than a living
wage. . .
"Of course it can be a damaging experience for children if their
parents' relationship ends, but this is just as true for wealthy
families as for the poorest. The wisdom of generations also tells
us that when poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the
window. So the more help we can give to the poorest families to
protect them against the impacts of the double-dip recession, the
better we will help them keep their relationships intact."
The think tank Demos launched a new model for measuring poverty
last week. Based on a survey of 40,000 households, which explored
20 indicators, it breaks down child poverty into five types. The
largest group of low-income families are defined as "grafters" -
around 90 per cent are in work.
Jo Salter, a researcher, said: "We cannot make generalisations
about poverty from any one person or group's experiences."
Today, one quarter of children in Britain are raised in
single-parent families, compared with 13 per cent in 1979. The
latest statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions show
that, in single-parent households, 41 per cent of children live in
poverty, compared with 23 per cent in two-parent families.