Workless parents stunt a child’s prospects for life

Social justice can mean many things, but it must include giving every child the best start in life.

Today the government is publishing new analysis which shows that one in eight children across the country are living in families where no one is in work. Strikingly, we’ve found that children growing up in workless families are almost twice as likely as children in working families not to reach the expected level at every stage of their education. Three quarters of children from families in which no one works fail to reach the expected level at GCSE.

We know that work is good for us. It benefits both our physical and mental health. People who are out of work are more likely to be drug and alcohol dependent and to struggle with problem debt.

Most notably, parents are around three times more likely to be in a damaging relationship if they are workless, compared with parents who both work. A child’s emotional and educational success is underpinned by the relationship between their parents. Warring parents, whether together or separated, have a hugely negative impact on their children. When exposed to frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict, children are at risk of being held back in their education and in later life. So we need to address both the quality of parental relationships and the problem of families where no one works.

Keeping parents talking is a vital step towards solving the first of these issues. As a government we have a duty to step in early and offer relationship support, instead of stepping in later through the criminal justice or benefits system.

So we will introduce new relationship support which will enable specialist organisations to deliver proven assistance at a local level — improving lives by giving parents, whether together or separated, the help they need.

As a further step forward we are also setting out the next phase of the Troubled Families programme which, through targeted intervention, provides support for a whole family through one point of contact. We will add an even greater emphasis on helping people back into work by introducing Jobcentre Plus support.

I don’t want any child to be defined by the circumstances of their birth. The government’s intention is that all families and children can go as far as their talents and hard work
will take them.