Quoted in fletcher 1988 similar sentiments have been

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Quoted in Fletcher, 1988Similar sentiments have been expressed by BritishConservative politicians and, when they were in govern-ment, such views began to influence social policies (see pp.509–10).New Labour politicians have been less inclinedto condemn single parenthood outright, but the Labourgovernment’s 1998 Green Paper,Supporting Families,did say,‘marriage is still the surest foundation for raising children’.Sociologists such as Charles Murray have even gone sofar as to claim that single parenthood has contributed tocreating a whole new stratum of society, the underclass –a claim discussed in detail in Chapter 1 (pp. 64–6).Mary McIntosh (1996) says: ‘Over recent years, themedia in the United Kingdom have been reflecting aconcern about lone mothers that amounts to a moralpanic.’ She claims that, as a group, lone mothers have beenstigmatized and blamed for problems such as youth crime,high taxation to pay for welfare benefits, encouraging aculture of dependency on the state, and producingchildren who grow up to be unemployable. She says,‘Perhaps the most serious charge is that they are ineffec-tive in bringing up their children.’However, while most commentators agree that singleparenthood can create problems for individual parents,many sociologists do not see it as a social problem, andsome believe it is a sign of social progress. As SarahMcLanahan and Karen Booth have said:Some view the mother-only family as an indicator of socialdisorganization, signalling the ‘demise of the family’. Othersregard it as an alternative family form consistent with theemerging economic independence of women.McLanahanand Booth, 1991Single parenthood and living standardsHowever single parenthood is viewed, there is little doubtthat it tends to be associated with low living standards.TheGeneral Household Survey of 2005 found that lone-parent families were disadvantaged in comparison to otherBritish families. In 2005, 41 per cent of lone-parentfamilies had a gross household income of £200 per weekor less, compared to 8 per cent of married couples withdependent children and 11 per cent of cohabiting coupleswith dependent children.Many of these differences stem from the likelihood oflone-parent families relying upon benefit. According tothe Department for Work and Pensions Green Paper onwelfare reform (2006), of 1.8 million lone parents,787,000 were receiving income support.Lone parents may also receive maintenance paymentsfrom the non-resident parent or parents of their children.The Child Support Agency (CSA) was set up in 1993 topursue non-resident parents for maintenance payments.(In2006 it was announced that it would be replaced in 2008with a Child Maintenance and Support Commission.)However, Allan and Crow (2001) argue that the CSAprovides little help to lone parents. By the late 1990s onlyaround 30 per cent of non-resident parents were makingany contribution towards their child’s maintenance. (CSAQuarterly Summary Statistics from 2003 show that bythen around 75 per cent of non-resident parents who

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