10 July 2007

Substance With Style

Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron with Kid's Company, who provide practical and emotional support to over 11,000 ‘lone children’Today's much anticipated report, Breakthrough Britain, from the Conservatives' Social Justice Policy Group, headed by Iain Duncan Smith, is the result of 18 months work of consultation with over 800 experts, organisations and charities, the policy proposals will propose a completely fresh approach to tackling poverty in the UK.

Having previously identified the five interlinked "pathways to poverty" — family breakdown, education failure, welfare dependency, debt, and addiction — today's proposals, if adopted by the Conservative Party will "reset the balance" that currently makes it advantageous for couples to break up, or to pretend to be "living apart together" — a term referring to the 200,000 more people claiming benefits for lone parents than there truly are lone parents in the country.

The Conservatives are not proposing a return to the married person's tax allowance, which Duncan Smith accepts had flaws. Neither are they suggesting that lone parents should have less money. Instead, married couples would qualify for a £20-a-week tax break and receive higher benefit payments of £32-a-week, bringing the benefits awarded to married couples into line with those currently awarded to single parents. This will be paid for through welfare reform targetted to encourage recipients off one of the five "paths to poverty".

Labour is already trying to claim that these proposals would be unfair on the children of single parents or those whose parents choose not to marry. However, there is nothing unfair about levelling the playing field. Indeed, one could argue that such an egalitarian approach achieves what socialism has always failed to deliver: social justice.


Essex anon said...

The trouble with wanting serious and intelligent public debate is it takes a bit more engagement from all our elected politicians. As long as people like the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the LibDem's education and families spokesman are childishly dismissing the proposals as "a series of unfunded spending commitments" and "a rag bag of old Tory party policies with a thin coat of new paint" it is hard to see how the electorate are going to re-engage with what goes on in Westminster, no matter how good the policies are.

Lucy M said...

On the funding issue, what makes more sense - to encourage family breakdown and then foot the bill for spiralling juvenile crime, leading to entire lives wasted in the prison system, or use that money now to make it a bit easier for couples to stay together and give their kids a better start? I know where I'd like to see it go.