The Government's new initiative to tackle family breakdown in the UK won't won’t save a single child from the devastation of fatherlessness says Nick Langford, author of a new book on family justice in the UK.
Recently the Centre for Social Justice – the think-tank established by Iain Duncan Smith – published its report “FULLY COMMITTED: How a Government could reverse family breakdown”.
For 10 years the CSJ has studied family breakdown, and it understands both the causes and the solutions; we might not always agree with it entirely (no mention of the role played by the family justice system) but it has earned our respect and the right to be listened to.
It pointed out that after decades of political complacency and shilly-shallying Britain now leads the world in family breakdown, which now costs the economy an eye-watering £46bn. More children have a smart phone than live with a father.
Although the CSJ recognise this government has spent more on family breakdown than any other, the spending is piecemeal and unfocused; we are rapidly heading away from Cameron’s commitment to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe or to apply a family test to every policy.
We can stop family breakdown
The CSJ made a number of recommendations which a fully committed government could employ to reverse family breakdown:
- Cabinet-level minister for the family
- Re-branding children’s services as family services
- Relationship education in schools
- Family hubs (this is such a good idea it has been championed by people as politically disparate as campaigners Fathers4Justice, solicitors Mishcon de Reya and feminist academic Liz Trinder)
- Relationship support for couples
- Greater involvement of fathers from birth and especially after separation.
These are all good ideas which have had wide support for years, so we have to wonder what is going on when we learn that a group including One Plus One, Dad Info and Netmums is spending £45,000 of taxpayers money (from a Department for Education fund of £2.7m) to collectively come up with yet another vacuous website.
Presented as a virtual fruit machine (is the Government subliminally encouraging gambling?), a press of the Spin button reveals pearls-of-wisdom such as, “My dad makes my mum a cup of tea every morning” or “I go to the cinema with her to see a film I really don’t want to see”.
They claim scientific justification for this nonsense, but as each “nugget” is sent in by the public (these guys don’t do more work than they have to), none has any validation, and watching a film you really don’t want to see hasn’t been proven to enhance your relationship.
Beneficiaries are ideologically driven
There is a sense here that the Government isn’t taking this desperately important issue very seriously; this is a sop, a pacifier, but it won’t save a single child from the devastation of family breakdown, of fatherlessness, of poverty, of the destruction of potential.
There are organisations which could spend £2.7m more wisely, which are crying out for funding - the CSJ itself, which could spend it on some more much-needed research; the Marriage Foundation, who aren’t afraid to extol the merits of committed relationships; Wikivorce, who are so good at providing support after relationships have broken down. Instead, it is always the same collective of ideologically-driven, ineffective beneficiaries of governmental largesse; as Karen Woodall said recently:
“Forget children’s psychological adjustment, ditch the concerns about mothers who alienate, away with the idea that children benefit from the relationships between their parents and off with the heads of anyone who thinks that fathers are necessary.”
Oh, and did I tell you the name of this astonishing waste of tax-payers’ money? It’s “Love Nuggets”. What a load of bollocks.
---Photo Credit: flickr/daquellamanera
You can buy Nick Langford's new book, An Exercise in Absolute Futility: Whatever happened to family justice? from Amazon.
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