The Telegraph has become one of Project Cameron's leading critics but it gives a warm welcome to today's report from Iain Duncan Smith's social justice policy group on marriage and the family. The report appears on page one of the newspaper under the headline 'Marriage is best for bringing up children'. A Telegraph leader also welcomes the report.
Here are some of the report's key findings, according to the study of 15,000 mothers with three year old children:
- Family breakdown is expensive: "The estimated annual cost of family breakdown in the UK, which has one of the highest rates of divorce and births outside marriage in the Western world, is as much as £24 billion or around £800 per taxpayer per year."
- Labour is trying to hide the case for marriage: "Policy-makers are especially criticised for their decision to “airbrush” marriage out of government-sponsored family research. Since 2003, the term “marital status” has been removed from government forms, reflecting the politically correct official view that marriage is irrelevant to the well-being of children. Government-sponsored research now misleadingly refers to “couple parents” or “couple families”, terms that conceal differences in outcomes between married and unmarried couples and their children."
- Cohabitation is much less stable than marriage: "Cohabiting couples face more than double the odds of family breakdown in the early years of parenthood compared to married couples on the same income. Amongst all unmarried couples, comprising those who described themselves as either “cohabiting” or “closely involved” at the time of birth, family breakdown is five times more common than amongst married couples."
- Reasons for the stability of marriage: "The study concludes by highlighting possible explanations for why married couples are more likely to stay together than unmarried couples after they have a baby. Evidence from outside the UK suggests commitment, communication skills, father involvement, specialisation of household roles and social support all play a part. Some of these factors may coincide with the decision to marry. Some may result directly from the experience of being married."
Editor's note: "Many Tories - like Tim Yeo - will not like this message and fear that it contradicts the party's modernising agenda. They are wrong to think that. Marriage is one of the best weapons any society has in the challenge of civilising the next generation and caring for elderly relatives. An individual's decision to get married - alongside finishing school, taking work and avoiding crime and drugs - is one of the most important ways they can avoid a life of poverty. Taking Tory MEPs out of the EPP and reducing the marriage penalty were David Cameron's two most specific pledges during the Tory leadership pledge. It is vital that marriage becomes the cornerstone of our party's poverty-fighting agenda."
You can discuss the report on the Social Justice Challenge website or, of course, below...