Family is the ‘bedrock’ of any good society and the government’s welfare reforms, said Iain Duncan Smith at the Manchester Conservative Party Conference today.
The Work and Pensions Secretary used the reintroduction of the married couple’s allowance and the changes to universal credit as examples of the government’s focus on strengthening families.
And he accused Labour of ‘almost completely’ pushing family out of public policy, leaving the Tories with a ‘mess’ to clean up and Britain with the fifth worst record of family stability in the world.
He said: “I have long believed that the bedrock of a good society and the first defence against poverty is, at its best, bigger than big business, stronger than government and more compassionate than charities – it is, of course, the family.
“The last Labour government pushed the family out of public policy almost completely.
“They made it hard for couples starting out together, for parents of small children, for people looking after their own parents.
“It is no wonder that so many families are weaker because the relationship between parents have broken down.
“Amongst rich countries, we inherited from Labour the fifth worst record of family stability in the world.
“To look out for your family is the most basic and the best of human impulses and we need to make it easier for people to fulfil that impulse.
“So this government will have its reforms all about making families stronger – from childcare to relationship support, we have already been delivering.”
Mr Duncan Smith explained that while money is not the cure for family or marital issues, financial strain can tear couples and families apart.
By having a couple’s allowance, offering relationship support, and helping with childcare, the government are not fixing all your family troubles but removing a common cause of them.
He said: “I know money does not make a relationship, that family or marriage needs more than economic incentive but when the incentives go in the opposite direction – when the discourage families and marriages from staying together – we have a problem.
“This government is however removing the problem and helping families on benefits to stay together and I am hugely proud of all of this.
“The government’s decision to restore the married couple’s allowance is putting marriage back where it belongs as the bedrock of our approach to family life. That is Conservative bedrock.”
This family-centred welfare reform hopes not to just benefit families now but to have a knock-on positive effect on future generations.
“When families are strong then there is no stopping us. The children learn first-hand what grown up responsibility looks like,” said Mr Duncan Smith.
“They understand that we are dependent not on government but on each other – that everyone has to pull their weight but no-one gets left behind.”
And it is not just the couple’s allowance –dubbed the ‘second greatest reform of the new government’ by the secretary of state – putting family first but universal credit too.
He said: “The new universal credit will ensure that the benefits system looks at families not just individuals. Everything we do in government will meet the test of strengthening families.
“This is the first time that government will do this.
“The first question we ask is ‘does this help families to stronger as a result of this policy?’ for that is the right question of a one nation government.”
While the Tory government are keen to strengthen and support families, they are urging people to realise that bigger is not necessarily stronger, capping the child tax credit for families with more than two kids.
“That is why the limit on child tax credit for more than two children is about bringing home the reality to parents that children do cost money,” said Mr Duncan Smith.
“And if you have more children you have to make the choice that others, who are not in the same position, make and not assume that tax payers money lets you avoid the consequences of such choices.
“That to me is taking responsibility and that is fair!”
Image courtesy of Conservatives, via YouTube, with thanks.