SPFB #7 Perspectives on Family Social Policy: Conservative Party

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  • Perspectives on Family Social Policy:                Conservative Party
    • However, this did not take off mainly because many of the cabinet members of the time were themselves divorce and promoting such an issue was not appropriate
    • Lone parents were denounced and traditional family values were promoted, with the idea of "back to basics".
    • The conservative parted under John Major was in government from 1990-1997, it showed clear preference for the married, two-aren't family
    • Two pieces of legislation came out of this time
      • Family Law Act 1996
        • The intention of the act was to support the intuition of marriage
        • introduced a one year waiting period before a couple could divorce
        • However, the act was never implemented as judges saw it as unworkable
      • The Child Support Act 1991
        • The main aim was to force absent fathers to pay maintenance for their children in the hope or reducing welfare payments to lone mothers
        • Was passed which led to the formation of the Child Support Agency
        • Although the government claimed this would help lone mothers, any money received from the fathers was deducted from the mothers benefits
    • The Child Support Agency was replaced in 2008 by the Child maintenance and Support Commission which had a similar role
      • The child support agency has been criticised as a way of saving the treasury money instead of helping single parents as benefits are often reduced when maintenance payments start
      • The agency was support by Conservatives ministers as it was seen to uphold the moral values of parental responsibili-ties
    • Smart and Neale (1999)
      • Earlier divorce legislation had encouraged the idea of a "clean break" between ex-spouses on divorce, so thaty they could  start a new life and put the problems of their dissolved marriage behind them
      • These included the Children's Act 1989, The Child Support Act 11991, and the Family Laws Act 1996.
      • This new legislation emphasised the priority that should be given to the needs of children and was based upon the idea the both biological parents should share responsibility for their offspring
      • puts into place a number of acts to combat the previous liberal ideas
    • Divorce was regarded as a social problem in this legislation because it could disadvantage the children
    • The Children's Act (!989)
      • While the courts decided on where children lived and how much access to non-resident parent could have, joint responsibility was assumed where possible
      • Smart and Neale argue that this legislation was meant to reinforce parent aspects on traditional respons-ibilities, at the same time acknowle-dging that spouses could not be forced to stay together
      • stopped this practive of awarding custody to one or the other parent and introduced "an automatic presumption that mother and fathers simply retained all the parental responsibility they enjoyed during marriage beyond legal divorce
      • Therefore the conventional family traits were being supported at the same time as recognising that diversity was apparent
    • Criticisms:
      • It wrongly assumes that the patriarchal nuclear family is "natural" rather than socially constructed
      • Feminists argue that it is an attempt to justify a return to the traditional patriarchal family that subordinated women to men and confined them to a domestic role
      • Cutting benefits would simply dive many poor families into even greater poverty


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