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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England$
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Pat Thane and Tanya Evans

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199578504

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199578504.001.0001

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Into the Twenty-First Century: Progress?

Into the Twenty-First Century: Progress?

(p.195) 9 Into the Twenty-First Century: Progress?
Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Pat Thane

Tanya Evans

Oxford University Press

Labour won the 1997 election. Attacks on lone mothers ceased. Benefits, assistance into work and training, and availability of childcare gradually improved, as did the employment situation and the numbers of mothers in work. Yet surveys showed that negative stereotypes of single mothers as teenage, never-married benefit scroungers persisted, despite evidence to the contrary. Labour attempted to reform the CSA with limited success by 2010, when it lost the election to a Conservative–Liberal Coalition. This returned to cutting benefits and emphasizing ‘family breakdown’ as a cause of wider social problems, including crime. This reached a crescendo following urban riots in August 2011. Poverty in lone-parent families remained high, even when the parent was in full-time work. For all the change over the preceding century, too much remains the same.

Keywords:   unmarried mothers, illegitimacy, family history, welfare history, lone parents, Labour Party, Conservative Party, David Cameron, coalition

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