01 March 2007


I've just noticed the following excellent letter in today's Times:

Sir, The Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, says that benefits policy should be “bias-free”. Yet the tax credit system is biased towards parents who live separately, encouraging unmarried couples to commit fraud by pretending to “live apart together”. At least 200,000 more people claim lone parent benefit than there are lone parents.

We may ask why marital status has been abolished from government forms and research in the face of robust evidence showing distinct and important differences in parent and child outcomes. Mr Johnson may also want to find out why government has completely ignored evidence-based relationship education programmes that can prevent and reduce family breakdown.

His non-argument — that not all marriages are brilliant and not all other family arrangements are doomed — is obviously true, in the same way that not all smokers die of cancer.

Bristol Community Family Trust,
Kingsdown, Bristol