Thursday, 1 April 2010

Broken Record #1: "Single parent families on benefits can cost state more than £5million, says new report"

This is the first in a series of blogposts on moral scares by Tory-supporting newspapers, and the crackpot schemes they come up with to "fix" what David Cameron is calling "broken Britain". I agree that Britain is broken, but I see the faultlines in different places to where the Tories see them, and attribute many of the problems to Tory policies, pursued by Tory and New Labour governments. The solutions I advocate are rather different from those put forward by Cameron, the Evening Standard, the Daily Telegraph, etc.

Today's broken record, "Single parent families on benefits can cost state more than £5million, says new report", from the Daily Telegraph, originates in a story from our own borough of Barnet, with the case study - there has only been one - done for the most recent Barnet council Future Shape report.

One wouldn't mind so much about this story, if the subject were at all representative, but as you will quickly deduce from reading the first and second paragraphs, the scare has been concocted from the experience of one family with a pretty unique set of "challenges":

According to an extreme case study put together by Barnet Council in North London - which focuses on an abused single mother brought up in care who has three children - the cost can be counted at £5,782,894.

It assumes that neither the mother or any of the children ever do any paid work and that the children, like the mother, spend extended periods in state care.
The Telegraph scare story is actually based on a longer story in the Daily Mail which, while reactionary, remarkably for the Mail, manages to be less alarming.

Expect more stories like this in the run-up to the election. Actually, that being so very soon, this sort of thing is designed more for the post-election slash-and-burn season coming our way, if we cannot successfully resist all parties' cuts plans.

1 comment:

Rog T said...


I don't buy the "broken Britain" theme at all. Most families are not in poverty, most people have a decent standard of living and most people don't live on the breadline or in fear of their lives.

I subscribe to a far more upsetting concept "abandoned Britain". What I mean by this is that areas/communities are effectively cut adrift from mainstream society. In effect we've given up on those estates/communities/people.

The reason Cameron talks of broken Britain is because he can address issues in a way that Daily Mail readers can understand. When we start dealing with abandonded Britain the Mail takes a different view.

If you say "we're going to take tough action to deal with graffiti" the Mail applauds. If you say "we are going to reach out to young people involved in graffiti and spend money to provide activities to engage them in more socially acceptable passtimes" you get accused of "rewarding bad behaviour".

Sadly the Mail never rails against rewarding the bad behaviour of the Fred Goodwins of this world.

Action against single parents = good. Advising young girls on contraception = bad.

I think you get the drift