What is “state-sponsored fatherlessness”?

So what exactly is “state sponsored fatherlessness”? Is there any credence in the charge being levelled at the last Labour government? (See a few posts below for the reference). Let’s examine the case for the prosecution…

a) Single mothers get benefits to help them support their children, whether in or out of work, thus making it less necessary to have a ‘male breadwinner’ around. Single mothers also get given social housing so they and their children have somewhere to live; in fact, there are as we speak hordes of teenage girls prowling the streets trying to find a compliant stranger who will impregnate them just so they can get a council flat. There is also a valid criticism that the benefits system militates against couples who want to live together. They will get more money if they live apart.

b) Not being married to the father of your children has, to an extent, been de-stigmatised. The state does little to encourage marriage, claim the supporters of the Married Couple’s Tax Allowance. Giving them £50 a year to be married would soon sort that out. Seriously though, there is an argument to be made that in trying to ensure that single-parent families aren’t stigmatised, we politicians are sending out the message that two parents bringing up a child isn’t the best option. But I’m not convinced. Surely there’s still a general consensus that two good parents are better than one? And is really that wrong to think that one good parent might well be better than having one good and one bad (domestic violence, abuse, etc) in the same household?

c) Men are actively discouraged from being involved in their children’s lives after a couple splits. There are undoubtedly some ways in which things are made difficult for the man. Social housing that would be capable of accommodating a family for part of the week is rarely available. I’ve handled more than a few cases for men who have ended up in a grotty bedsit, or even shared hostel accommodation, and who then can’t see their children for more than a few hours at a time. It’s only the parent with >50% residence who gets the family home. But given the shortage of social housing, can we really manage to provide two family-sized homes, one for mum, one for dad, when other families don’t have anywhere decent to live? The Child Support Agency has its critics – lots of them – but its role is to make sure the non-resident parent contributes financially to a child’s upkeep. Some might say its impact is negative in that it focuses solely on the father as a source of money, and doesn’t link this to any more active role in a child’s upbringing. It is unsympathetic – or rather, disinterested – when fathers tell them that they’re not being allowed to see their child, and, quite understandably, think that if they’re contributing to the child’s maintenance the mother shouldn’t be allowed to withhold access unless there are reasonable grounds for doing so. There are criticisms of the role of the family courts, along similar lines.

On reflection, I think it must be about benefits. But have I missed anything?


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  • Lynn  On August 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    ‘I think it must be about benefits. But have I missed anything?’

    I agree, but it is more than this – and the clue is in the pre-fix ‘state-sponsored’. The narrative is a wholesale attack on the welfare state which is held up as the cause of ‘irresponsibility’ in every part of contemporary life from family breakdown, crime and anti-social behaviour to educational failure. It can be found in all the ‘broken Britain’ rhetoric and in most of the Centre for Social Justice publications (IDS’s think tank).

    The assumption is that the welfare state has caused *all* these problems – and more. This isn’t to say that its proponents (IDS and Cameron) think that the state should do nothing – they believe that it should take action to ‘support families’ – they just don’t believe that it should provide welfare. Instead, families and charities should – and of course the private sector. In their view the family is a cosy warm context for nurture and growth – not a site of conflict. It reflects a view where 100 years of feminism hasn’t happened.

    • Carl  On August 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      The view that feminism and welfare are so intrinsically attached rather reflects a view where 100 years of feminism haven’t happened also.

      Thanks for mentioning feminism though, that has indeed been blamed quite directly for these issues with Harriet Harman the most obvious and unabashed exponent of feminism, her disdain for two parent families and indeed the male gender as a whole being quite evident.

      • Lynn  On August 29, 2011 at 12:53 am

        ‘The view that feminism and welfare are so intrinsically attached rather reflects a view where 100 years of feminism haven’t happened also.’

        Sorry, this sentence doesn’t make sense.

  • Jeremy Poynton  On August 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    What a huge effort to pretend you don’t either understand or acknowledge the problem. Happily for you, David Lammy does, and can explain it to you


    I know that left leaning women (such as Harriet “I don’t understand what you mean by relativism” Harman) don’t believe families *need* fathers. Well – you are wrong.

  • Stuart Palmer  On August 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Lack of money causes real problems in a relationship, regardless of being married or not. If the ‘cost’ of breaking up is that both people will be financially better off then that’s what is most likely to happen.
    The reason ‘state sponsored’ is used is that, 2 people not living together but having a child, have a higher standard of living than they would have if they stayed together.
    Unless you have a joint income above 30k you might as well separate and live off the state. This is not an opinion it is simple household economics.
    By the way, if you have to ask the question you have lost touch /never been in touch, with the people you are talking about.

    • kerrymccarthy  On August 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Can you explain to me Stuart what the idea is behind your email address? Using my home address? That’s just creepy.

      • Stuart Palmer  On August 28, 2011 at 9:56 pm

        I don’t have an email address I have a domain name – anything in front of it can therfore become an email address.
        It’s good to know, and block, companies/people who sell their email lists on; technology is wonderful if you know how to use it!
        I am sure you know what people mean by S S Fatherlessness, and I think you are right it is all about ‘Benifits’.
        Elections are popularity contests and changing ‘the system’ will be unpopular with millions of people. QED it will not happen.

      • kerrymccarthy  On August 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

        Right…. your domain name is the same as a building I used to live in, until I moved to current address. So putting my name@thatbuilding as your email address looked like a deliberate attempt to hint that you know where I live… Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

      • Stuart Palmer  On August 29, 2011 at 8:32 am

        No need to worry, I have no knowledge of, or interest in knowing, where you live.

  • mhayworth  On August 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    As a female and one who was a single parent for most of my career (who never once lived on lout-inducing handouts (I can’t bare the term ‘benefits’ as they imply that the state actually has its own money to hand out), I can only hope that Labour NEVER gets into power again.

  • Brian Black  On August 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Put the children of single mothers into care, and put unmarried teen mothers into mental hospitals like they did in the good old days. That’s the only way to deal with the problem of these benefit scroungers!

    And a few years of national service would surely cut the numbers of absent fathers. Instill a modicum of self-discipline into young men, instead of leaving them to hang around housing estates impregnating everything that moves!

  • James  On August 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Have a word with Harman and Hewitt, I’m sure they’ll fill you in. it was their idea after all.

  • Christian  On August 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Men have to work at a hard relationship if they don’t want to lose their children, women don’t. Women used to have to work at the relationship to keep the father’s income but now they don’t. They have welfare and CSA and the courts instead.

    How about shared hostels for single mothers instead of having their own flats, with shared childcare provided so they could work. Just make the alternative to staying with the father a little less attractive, a little less easy.

    What children want is their parents to stay together, to try a little harder.

    • Richard  On August 29, 2011 at 8:21 am

      “Women used to have to work at the relationship to keep the father’s income”

      Even to the point of having to put up with relentless extreme physical abuse for years on end and in living in constant fear of destitution should they even dare to seek to protect themselves and their children or try to find a healthier environment in which to raise their children. If you are incapable of understanding the reasons for which the law is there, then may I suggest you bear this in mind before you rush to comment, overcome by knee-jerk zealotry. Sometimes it is better to keep quiet and be taken for a fool than to speak up and confirm you are one.

      • Christian  On August 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

        How many relationships break up after “relentless extreme physical abuse for years on end”, rather than through boredom within a low-conflict marriage (Amato)? You’ve blown away a straw man of your own creation, then thrown in some ad hominem irrelevancies.

        Why not address the issue of the incentives that now face everyday women, and how these encourage them to choose fatherlessness for their children? Why not look at the inequality of the pressures on men and women to maintain their parental relationship?

  • Mark Littlewood  On August 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    It is about benefits and the welfare state, most definitely.

    And an intrinsic problem with the present construct of the welfare state is that it seems near impossible to transfer funds to “needy” cases without also potentially subsidising the sort of behaviour that may give rise to these needy cases.

    In the particular case of parenthood, the state does send a lot of wrong signals and perverse incentives.

    You point out the absurdity of the housing benefit position – the state makes it (enormously) more financially attractive for some parents to live apart. This is just crazy, but I’ve yet to hear of how it can be solved within the present structures.

    From what I can gather – although I’m happy to be corrected on this – most social studies show that two parent families are much better for the life chances of the children. Of course, not all single parent families are worse than all two parent families. But generally speaking, if you’re brought up in a single parent household, the dice of life are stacked pretty heavily against you.

    There is therefore an argument that the state should incentivise behaviour that makes two parent households more likely and single parent households less likely. At present, it is doing the opposite.

    I’m not persuaded by the mooted £50 marriage tax break, but I’m sometimes not clear whether its critics think the problem is that £50 isn’t enough to change behaviour or whether the state shouldn’t be seeking to change behaviour at all. Would, for example, a £5,000 annual tax break be more welcome to the critics?

    Examples of policy changes that would move in the direction of “state sponsored 2 parent families” rather than “state sponsored fatherlessness” would be:

    *benefits/tax breaks being more generous per capita for those in 2 parent households
    *an assumption (albeit rebuttable) that single mothers can live with their parents rather than being considered a high priority for rehousing
    *greater legal (and possibly financial) responsibility on parents (including the absentee parent) for the behaviour of their children

    At present, it is just a truism to say that the state sponsors fatherless families.

    The problem is that by attempting to treat the symptons (namely, poor life chances for those kids living with poor single parents) we may be exacerbating the cause.

    Btw, @Lynn (above), I am quite sure you’re wrong that IDS and Cameron are opposed to the state providing welfare. Can you reference a single speech/policy announcement that would indicate this? In fact, the IDS reforms may led to a substantial hike in welfare spending if he has got it wrong on incentive effects leading to more people entering the workforce.

    • Lynn  On August 29, 2011 at 12:48 am

      Mark – they would definitely prefer that the state did not provide welfare – as I have argued – it is seen as fundamentally problematic. Instead, families, communities, the third sector and the market are the preferred providers of welfare. (Families have always been thus.) IDS has been saying pretty much the same thing since 2004.See the Centre for Social Justice list of publications – notably ‘Breakdown Britain’. This is echoed in most of Cameron’s broken society rhetoric.

      The incentive effects will not work because there is precious little job creation!

  • Alex  On August 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Allow me to explain. “State-sponsored fatherlessness” is where the state pays single mothers so that they are better off than they would be, all other things considered, if the father was present. A possible consequence is that mothers choose to remain single to the detriment of the child, and this might reasonably said to be as a direct result of the economic inducement provided by the state.

  • cronshd  On August 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    This post is an example of how out of touch our politicians are with what goes on in the real world.

    It really is scary how out of touch an MP can be.

    • kerrymccarthy  On August 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      It’s pretty lazy to resort to ad hominen comments like this. Care to explain your thinking?

  • Nick  On August 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    If you are married, the state assumes you are going to be the welfare system for your spouse.

    Against that, the only benefit is being able to transfer assets between spouses.

    However, for the vast majority of people in the UK that’s an irrelevance. 50% have less than 5K in savings.

    The tax system won’t change that because the state is bust. Add up all the debts, and we are talking 6.8 trillion on an income of 0.6 trillion. Even that ignores the bailout of those with no savings in retirement.

    As your colleague correctly pointed out, there is no money left. You’ve blown it, and left the massive debts. You can’t even blame the bankers for your profligate spending.

  • ian sheriff (@ianorrsheriff)  On August 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    working at the sharp end of social housing, (that means I get dirty), I cant tell you how often I come across young women who see getting pregnant and having children as there career choice.

    • kerrymccarthy  On August 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      And why do you think that is?

      • Hoover  On August 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm

        Because Labour have made it worth their while.

        I can’t figure out whether you’re genuinely trying to understand the causes of this long-running problem or trying to muddy the waters.

        People don’t behave entirely randomly. Incentives have a real effect in the real world.

        As a well educated MP you might reasonably regard their actions as foolish. There are all sorts of reasons to choose another direction – get a job, put off having kids, etc. But we’re considering poorly educated people who make rational decisions to maximise their short term benefit.

        I wonder if anyone on the UK left has ever read Charles Murray’s Losing Ground? If this could be discussed without prejudice by the left, we might start leaving welfare’s medieval era.

      • kerrymccarthy  On August 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm

        ‘Labour have made it worth their while’? This was a social phenomenon throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Have you looked at the benefits system and the provision of social housing over the past three decades to show that Labour somehow made it more of an attractive option? Unless you’re talking about tax credits – designed to help people move from welfare dependency into work, and to make work pay – which are surely a good thing if you’re criticising the welfare dependency of single parents…

  • Adrian  On August 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with this post, just confused it has come a a Labour MP.

  • Phillip  On August 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Unfortunately, like most issues we are facing in the UK, there is no one single reason.

    Yes, welfare is part of the blame. But if we are looking for reasons we need to look back at the last 15 – 20 years. Not enough social housing was built. Educational standards haven’t increased. Poor sex education in schools. CSA built on a system of reducing benefit bill and not enhancing lives. Family courts and social workers making decisions based on targets and their own ideals rather than the reality of life. Bad career advice at school. Bad parenting – too many leave developing their children to schools and TV. Kids not being taught the importance of responsibility for their actions. Lack of respect. Unemployed encouraged to move onto sickness benefits. Lack of role models within families and localities – too many households where nobody has ever worked.

    Lots and lots of reasons.

    What can be done? Would money solve the problem? Not sure, as even when Brown lavished £billions on a multitude of different projects the problems only seem to have become worse. So it is not necessarily purely a money thing.

    Labour and their massive majorities and goodwill of the people in 1997 and 2001 had the opportunity but to paraphrase Blair they ‘bottled it’. So there is much criticism to be levelled at Labour and their 97 – 10 administration.

    There are too many career politicians these days that don’t care about the bottom 20% in society. Tories and Labour MPs only care about the 100,000 or so independent middle income voters in marginal constituencies that determine who wins and gets a ministerial post. Too many former solicitors, journalists and party/think tank employees end up as MPs and not enough engineers, teachers, nurses and single parents who struggled on benefits.

    I can’t really see any of the leaders or senior ministers/shadow ministers being able to rise to the challenge.

    Cynical? Yes I am!

  • Nick  On August 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Cutting money off makes a difference.

    1. Replace the current system with compulsory savings.

    Reasons are that people are very careful spending their money on themselves.

    People spending other peoples money on themselves are careful – like MPs on their personal expenses.

    Next come people spending other people’s money on other people.

    Last down the list is people borrowing money that has to be repaid in the future on other people, because by the time its due to be paid, they are long gone.

    Compulsory savings means people are careful.

    2. Limit the payouts.

    Not more than 5 years or X thousand pounds of help

    For example, we have people receiving 104,000 a year in housing benefits plus other payouts on top. Free health care, ….

    That over 5 years is a major lottery win. That’s enough to get people going. If they can’t, no more help. Exceptions ICB where we as a society pay all.

    For that, the government has to stop taxing.

    For example, a median worker on 25K, would have had a pension of 21K a year if their money had gone in the FTSE. Instead they were forced to invest with the risky option, the government who blew the money on really risky investments.

  • anon  On August 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Problem with the benefits system isn’t so much that it rewards people for living apart, rather that it seriously penalises people who live together. If you cohabit you have to take a masssive benefit cut – one you can ill afford.

    Labour should have fixed this. Benefits shouldn’t be about punishing people for being poor and clawing back as much as possible.

  • James  On August 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Obviously Kerry is extremely out of touch for not understanding this issue (or caring about it), but in all fairness no one has given a complete answer to her question and fully explained the subject at hand.

    State sponsored fatherlessness isn’t simply about benefits or even simply money. Under Labour it’s a compete way of thinking, an entirely deliberate process of social engineering that goes hand in hand with Labour’s rather unpleasant brand of feminist socialism. It’s not just about unemployed single mother on benefits either.

    The very beginnings of the process arguably go back to Thatcher with her destroying a number of male dominated industries. However Labour continued this and very much set out to destroy the idea of fathers as bread-winners in an attempt to destroy the family unit.

    They intentionally created a bloated public sector which was sexist against men in whom it employed. Therefore as well as destroying male employment the government was also resdistributing tax income to women/mothers by inventing non-jobs for them. Towards the end of their tenure we even saw Labour attempting to give private sector jobs to women/mothers via the “equality” bill. When you hear the likes of the Fawcett society complaining about the impact of the cuts on women, what they really are really protesting against is the government taking away some of the special privileges/jobs given to women/mothers by Labour.

    Others and even Kerry herself have highlighted the problem of the benefits system making single mothers better off than married ones and people also mentioned the family courts but its’ wrong to simply see these things in isolation and there’s plenty more going on than already mentioned. Under Labour we had the most unequal maternity/paternity leave levels in Europe, again giving money to women to see their kids and denying the same to men. Child benefit automatically goes to the mother, even in cases of separation where the parenting is shared. Again a case of the government handing money to mothers and marginalising fathers.

    The problem isn’t simply one of economics either, attitudes and ideas are just as important too. So many Labour feminists spent most of their careers demonising men and creating sexist laws. Labour and the charities it funded constantly portrayed men as evil sub human beings, most of whom were either supposed to be paedophiles, rapists or wife beaters. Similarly every female and mother was portrayed as an angel. Every single domestic violence campaign exclusively featured men abusing women, despite males actually making up 40% of victims. Other Labour favourites such as the NSPCC continually sent out the message that kids were at risk from men/fathers, despite the reality of the situation being more mothers kill their children than fathers. Labour changed attitudes/policies in policing/courts etc whereby women got away with their crimes due to never being under suspicion or having an excuse whereas a mere accusation was enough to destroy a man and to be rid of a child’s father.

    It’s also wrong to have a narrow definition of the state as simply the government itself. The whole process above has been supported, facilitated and even encouraged by the the BBC (essentially the state broadcaster under Labour) and their stream of anti-male and anti-family propaganda.

    To summarise – state sponsored fatherlessness is a process of attempting to make mothers dependant on the state and to deny fathers any role in families or any function other than to pay tax or child support to the government. The state replaces fathers. It’s achieved through changes in employment, benefits, laws and attitudes, giving special privileges to women and discriminating against men and also stable families. The end result is the riots we saw earlier this month. Elsewhere I saw someone post that they should be renamed “Harman’s riots” after her performance on Newsnight and quite frankly I couldn’t agree more. Harman and many others like her are the cause of this, and they did it all on purpose.

  • kerrymccarthy  On August 29, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Can I just point out that the question in the title was a rhetorical device…. sending up what I think is an absolutely ridiculous phrase…

    I’ve blogged about this issue many times before, and when I have the time I will respond to all these comments and outline just why I think you (well, most of you) have got it wrong.

    But in the meantime, a few more facts and empirical evidence would be appreciated, rather than just glib statements of prejudice.

    • JW  On August 29, 2011 at 2:10 am

      Well if you’re looking for empirical evidence, a daughter of someone who works with my father did deliberately get pregnant because she knew it would put her high up on the council house waiting list (and she duly got one).

      This kind of behaviour is frequently mentioned in these kind of debates, and whilst it may be very rare, it does exist.

      The problem then is (a) why did she think she needed to get on the list (the answer is that we live in a rural area with extortionate house prices and rents and that she had the misguided expectation that she should have her own place, whilst the rest of us just got on with it and lived with our parents), and (b) why are people like her given places high up on the list? Should council housing be for emergency cases (purposefully done in this case) or should it be for people who have jobs but just cannot afford decent housing?

      • kerrymccarthy  On August 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

        That’s not empirical evidence, it’s anecdotal.

      • JW  On August 29, 2011 at 10:35 am

        I wondered how you’d get out of that one. Well done for finding an excuse not to be able to respond.

      • avseer  On August 29, 2011 at 10:42 am

        I concur, that mentality exists wholly. To give imperical evidence is unnecessary, anecdotal? Hardly, the whole mindset of freedom is owning or having your own place in the world. Some work hard to achieve that, others simply use the system. Kerry appears to have a one-sided Labour typical opinion on this issue. Instead of complaining about the other side, which ever party we talk about – why don’t they use the money they are paid on election to work together? Just because philosophy might not be the same it does not mean that all input would not benefit a solution.

      • Jeremy Poynton  On August 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

        I know two young women who got their first accommodation by getting pregnant. They are in fact both hard working lasses, but that was the only way they could get housed. Neither is with the father of their kids.

        None so blind as them as wot don’t want to see, eh Kerry? As my Gran want to see. The truth can be unpalatable, can’t it? At least it seems that people are waking up, in Europe at least, to the fact that socialism is a disaster.

    • StevenL  On August 29, 2011 at 2:42 am

      I think, if you look at the evidence, you’ll find that the constituencies where there are the highest proportion of workless families, are labour voting ones.

      In a lot of these places, single parenthood is far less of an issue than the inability to speak English.

  • Jon Harvey  On August 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I find the idea that the Labour Party is somehow responsible for a long term decline in marriage entirely ludicrous. There are many deep social forces at large here, not least the decline of the extended family, accelerated by job mobility, imo.

    But I do suspect that some young women, elect to fall pregnant in order to boost their priority on the housing list. That has been happening since the early 80s at least, when I worked in housing. The solution is simple: more housing.

  • avseer  On August 29, 2011 at 8:42 am

    The welfare state itself is not to blame it is a proud and worthy institution. The problem comes from a minority who abuse it and thus pretext becomes the ‘mother with 12 kids’ stories we see who lives in the lap of luxury ‘apparently’ through benefits for so many children. Somewhere in that story lies the foundation of the problem. There are undoubtedly far too many females dedicated to having kids for whatever reason, without actually understanding that this is a huge responsibility. My niece is one such child. Two children and a third on the way ‘just because she has a condition and it needs dealing with which will mean no more kids in the future’. She has the sudden insane incentive, whilst the other two children are being dragged in a complete and utter chaotic filthy extreme. Selfishness lies at the heart of that particular case, how many more women does that apply too?
    I am a single woman, never married, never wanted kids for my own reasons and mostly because of abuse I suffered. As such when I lost my job at the end of last year through depression/stress and bullying I am entitled to £377 a month. I cannot get help with my mortgage at all so how does that equate to the ‘state’ funding me? After working all my life and contributing suddenly I am less worthy than those that push out kids for a living and show very little regard for their welfare and upbringing. It is sickening.

  • Linda Jack  On August 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Oh, heavens, I knew I shouldn’t have read these comments on a Bank Holiday! So scary to know that there are just so many hypocritical, ill-informed bigots out there. Where to start – ah yes the charming “Brian Black” – now there’s a man in touch with reality! OK, so we punish the children for being born to teenage parents by putting them in care – when we all know outcomes for children in care are abysmal? Oh, and we are happy to pick up the enormous monetary cost of putting kids in care too are we? And we really think that the Victorians had it right, putting people in asylums? For goodness sake man, if you give any sort of damn about this country you should see a psychiatrist yourself.

    Despite the ill-informed comments here, there is absolutely no evidence that teenage girls get pregnant to get housing. This myth is not only a load of rubbish it is also dangerous, it means we don’t look further into the real reasons for the problem in order to come up with some sensible solutions.

    So to Mr Black and his despicable ilk I would suggest if you are really interested in solutions you do more than sound off about things you know nothing about. Presumably you are the kind of Tories (or BNP supporters) who don’t like sex education in schools and don’t see PHSE as an important part of the curriculum.

    OK, rant over! So what is my solution to the problem? Firstly, we need to have better sex and relationships education – as I often say, if just teaching young people how to put condoms on bananas worked we wouldn’t even be discussing the problem of single parents. Young people need to learn in the context of feelings, understanding psychological drivers, thinking about consequences and taking responsibility for those consequences. One of the thing that angers me far more than the young women who may be accessing benefits to protect their child, it is the fathers who walk away, not only often getting away without contributing financially but far more importantly, causing so much more psychological pain to the child by refusing to have anything to do with them.

    Secondly, we need to have proper support in place for young families. That isn’t just financial, it is also emotional and practical. If Mr Brown was really interested in helping maybe he could volunteer to become a mentor for the young men he thinks will learn how to be better fathers by being imposed on the army and sent off to learn how to be better killers? Let’s not forget Mr B, ex military are disproportionately represented amongst street drinkers, homeless and those with mental health conditions. Parenting classes should become the norm for everyone and be available at key stages in the child’s development rather than as a response to a problem that has already happened or a punishment. We wouldn’t let someone out on the road on their own without passing their driving test, yet we are all expected to learn parenting by trial and error!

    Thirdly, having a child is often the spur for a young woman who may not have been interested in her education before, to want to do better in order to support her child, how ridiculous then that the current legislation mitigates against this. Only last week I heard of a young woman who had fled domestic violence and wanted to go back to college to do her GCSE’s being told by the Job Centre to wait until her baby was 2!

    Finally, if we truly are “all in this together” we all need to be part of the solution. The alternative is just an acceptance of more of the same.

    • JW  On August 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      (a) I’ve provided evidence that some teenage girls get pregnant to get a council house and (b) I’m a member of the Labour Party.

      Burying your head in the sand won’t help, and the party’s denial of this kind of problems is why a lot of working class people are turning to the BNP or just not bothering to vote at all.

  • speedo  On August 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

    This website carries an advert for Home Income Cash System. A simple googling of this name reveals the absolute con that is this advert. What on earth is anyone with sympathies for single mothers doing this for. Absolut idiot

    • kerrymccarthy  On August 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t carry adverts on my blog.

      • Alex  On August 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

        Just on the adverts thing — I get one for ‘SIMS Social’ immediately below the original post.

      • kerrymccarthy  On August 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

        Can’t see it on my site, it must be something to do with your browser?

      • alexconnor  On August 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm

        It’s a wordpress thing? They used to drop occasional ads onto high-traffic pages (only avoidable with a paid-for for an upgrade).

  • Jeremy Poynton  On August 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I really really cannot believe you have even ASKED this question, Ms. McCarthy. Either you are wilfully blind or you have had your head buried in the sand for the past 20 years or so. FACT. If you are on benefits, it is economic sense for couples to live apart. The fact that in the end you see what happened the other week – chaos on the streets from kids and people with no personal responsibility and no boundaries whatsoever is of no consequence. So it would seem

    Wake up and smell the coffee lady. Socialism DISABLES people – which is why it is so dangerous and why my wife and I are getting the hell out if Nasty Labour get in again

    BTW – I voted Labour until Iraq – Blair with Toynbee’s proverbial nosepeg on – but never again. I helped to let loose a toxic Fifth Column which has caused untold damage to the economy, society and the political process. Shame on you all.

  • Jeremy Poynton  On August 29, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Ms. McCarty writes an article which is utterly out of touch with what is happening, and then complains when she is called out of touch.


    It’s desperate. What the past decade has shown me is that the more politicians interfere, the worse they make things. Why do you have to be so bloody BUSY all the time, just LEAVE US ALONE and stop interfering and legislating please.

    • avseer  On August 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      It is perfectly clear that our politicians seem to hold their hands up to nothing whatsoever. They fiddle (literally) whilst the entire country burns and have been doing so for years. Politicians are no longer honourable people (or few are), they spend too much time preaching and not enough time listening and acting. Take my political representative who thinks that shouting and beying at the top of their voices in PMQs is ‘open debate’ clearly for all his hoity toity accent and so-called education he learned little more than screaming and throwing his silver spoon out. Needs to be educated in the real world. He has yet to answer one single question properly, nor give assistance or ask questions in the chamber as I have implored on mental health issues. They are mostly jokers who please themselves and their party political aspirations, never ours!

  • Jeremy Poynton  On August 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Why? Because their parenting has failed them and because the education system is not fit for purpose, being based on ideology and not on what kids need. Tantamount to child abuse for many many children. One size does NOT fit all, as we are finding out to our cost, as illiterate after at illiterate pitches up at Uni, only to have to be taught the three Rs all over again.

  • Jeremy Poynton  On August 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

    @avseer On August 29, 2011 at 8:42 amPermalink | Reply
    “The welfare state itself is not to blame it is a proud and worthy institution”

    WAS. What we have now is not what was intended – which was a safety net; indeed, William Beveridge, one of the founders of the Welfare State wanted malingerers to go to retraining camps. So he had no illusions about how the Welfare State can be abused.

    How far can one expect people to pay for other people’s “needs”?

  • JM  On August 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Can I just say, as someone who worked for the Child Support Agency in the past, that it is not a question of being unsympathetic or disinterested when it comes to issues of access, but lack of power. Parliament only gave the agency powers to deal with getting support from the non-resident parent (who can, incidentally, be female). Only the Courts can deal with issues of access, because only they have the jurisdiction to do that, but, as I explained to people, if you are paying the right amount of child support, the court generally takes a positive view of that.
    However, I found it appalling the way some parents treated their children as weapons to get revenge on previous partners, by threatening to move, or using the CSA repeatedly to start proceedings to claim child maintenance, then closing the case, then opening another one if there was an argument between them. Professionals like doctors, dentists etc were the the worst: despite paying more in tax than I earned in a month, they would argue about their contributions down to the last penny. None of them seemed concerned about the interests of their children, only about what they wanted. Maybe this underlying selfishness is one of the problems in our society.

  • avseer  On August 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Which was precisely what is meant by an honourable idea. Sadly people see it as a right now. Wish me luck, two job interviews Wednesday.

  • avseer  On August 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Ultimately the problem Labour brought to the question of ‘state sponsoring’ is to throw money at everything without clearly thinking through the true causes. You could take 100 criminals, likewise 100 ‘females’ of various backgrounds and have consensus of only 3 out of that 100. There is no easy answer to the flippancy with which parenthood is treated.
    Some plan for pregnancy, others are just plain silly in never using contraceptives (scary given what is out there) and then there are those that make a choice. Whether for attention, housing, or simply to get themselves into something they think makes them adult. There are some in the younger generation who have learned from their own parents that hard work is the norm and then there are others dragged up with loads of half-blood siblings etc and the ones inbetween – there is no such thing as normal.

    Lifestyle in so many households that can revolves around finding things to occupy the children so parent(s) can do whatever they want too. At some point that is always going to come back and bite them on the ass. My niece, the one with the 2.5 kids – her sister and brother had to clean her home because when her slightly autistic child becomes stressed, she will smear the contents of her nappy on the wall – if my niece could not be bother to clean it up what chance does that child have? Talking to the ‘talk to the hand’ generation like my niece is deeply depressing – they were given everything and now have no idea of values.

  • StevenL  On August 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Weren’t Kerry’s election leaflets all about how the tories would take your tax credits and other benefits away? The implication is clear – vote labour get more free money.

    Although it’s not true. The only people in the UK getting decent pay rises under Osborne are workless families on child tax credits.

    There’s no different, other than Labour chucked so much money around that Osborne simply can’t sustain it. But he’s failing to stop public spending increasing at 5% pa or bring the deficit down too. So there’ll probably be a sterling crisis or a bond crash or something. That’ll be a hoot.

  • JM  On August 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Please note: you don’t have to be unemployed to get Tax Credits. It is perfectly possible to be working full-time and still be in receipt of them. Just ask a Civil Servant. At the lowest grade you don’t even earn enough to have to pay back a Student Loan.

  • Jules Wright  On August 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    What is state-sponsored fatherlessness? You really ought to know Ms McCarthy; it’s a uniquely Labour confection and was official HMG policy 1997-2010. Do catch up luv!

  • thebristolblogger  On August 30, 2011 at 8:31 am

    What is “state-sponsored fatherlessness”?

    A crude device to move any debate away from poverty and the chronic levels of inequality in this country?

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