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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 April 2021

The Struggle Continues: 1980s–90s

The Struggle Continues: 1980s–90s

(p.169) 8 The Struggle Continues: 1980s–90s
Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Pat Thane

Tanya Evans

Oxford University Press

Continuing difficulties for unmarried mothers and their children despite improvements. Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Governments, cuts to welfare, pressure on mothers to work, but childcare hard to find and contracting labour market. ‘Broken families’ blamed for social problems as divorce, cohabitation, and babies born out of wedlock rose to unprecedented levels. Government claims that ‘teenage mothers’ got pregnant to get a council house and welfare benefits. Disproved by research but accusations continued into 1990s. Successful efforts by OPF to set up courses to help mothers into work, strongly supported by mothers. In 1987, all legal differences between ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ children eliminated after long campaign by NC/OPF. In 1991 the establishment of Child Support Agency, badly designed in a hurry and made access to maintenance and benefits more difficult and conditions worsened. Intensified government attacks on lone, especially unmarried mothers, until Conservatives lost 1997 election.

Keywords:   unmarried mothers, illegitimacy, welfare history, lone parents, fathers, housing, child benefit, Margaret Thatcher, Peter Lilley, Child Support Agency

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