Think tank questions Government’s commitment to marriage and the family

The Centre for Social Justice gave the Government a score of just two out of 10 for its efforts to reverse high and damaging levels of family breakdown.

Its new report has been published to coincide with the first anniversary of the formation of the Coalition.

It says that pre-election promises by Prime Minister David Cameron to reinstate a tax break for marriage have “moved off the radar” as a result of deals done with the Liberal Democrats.

“Some of the vital measures committed to by the Conservative Party in opposition appear to have been watered down during Coalition negotiations,” the report says.

The report describes as “paltry” the £7.5 million committed to relationship support, in spite of the evidence linking marriage and positive child development.

It also criticises the Government for taking a similar approach to Labour by focusing its spending on services that offer support after a relationship has broken down, rather than services aimed at preventing family breakdown.

It said the decision to scrap child benefit for couples where one parent earns more than £42,000 was “unfortunate and unfair”, while plans to cap benefit payments at average annual household income of £26,000 would bring hardship to around 50,000 large families.

The report proposes that the Government phase in the benefit cap, although it said that the cap would still be “devastating” for large families, amounting to an average projected loss in benefits of £93 a week.

In addition to family breakdown, the report also ranked out of 10 the Government’s policies in relation to educational failure, economic dependency, addiction and serious personal debt, giving it a total score of 29 out of 50.

At the higher end of the score card were the Government’s efforts to end welfare dependency, which was given 8 out of 10, and measures to tackle drug and alcohol addiction at seven out of 10.

CSJ executive director Gavin Poole said in the report: “The Government’s first year of action has been mixed.

"Pioneering progress in pursuing welfare reform and an encouraging new direction for drug and alcohol policy has been undermined by poor implementation of bold education plans, and compromise-driven inaction in tackling our devastating culture of family breakdown.”