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Supporting fathers is crucial for children's life chances

By Frank Young

Almost half of British fathers feel undervalued and they increasingly feel unsupported and unprepared for fatherhood according to new data published by the CSJ and Bheard.Com this week

Our YouGov poll found that fathers from low incomes are almost twice as likely to ‘have little or no support or information’ prior to becoming a father compared to those from middle income households.

Parenting and antenatal classes are increasingly becoming a ‘middle class preserve’ with only a third of low income fathers attending them, a figure which increases to well over two thirds for higher earning fathers.

This matters, as research has shown that a child growing up in a low income household with a positive father figure does better at school, is happier and is more likely to live a life free from poverty. Supporting fathers should be at the heart of the Government's drive to improve children's life chances.

In response to this poll we are calling on the Government to appoint a new Fatherhood Champion to be given responsibility for helping to roll out successful, father-friendly, parenting programmes aimed at fathers, work with NHS bosses to support expectant fathers and promote effective mentoring programmes where they are making a difference.

This would make a crucial impact in the Government's attempts at improving the life chances of the most vulnerable in society. 

CSJ Report: Annual Fatherhood Survey 2016
Conservative Home: May's social reform agenda must not forget fathers
The Telegraph: The nappy change gap: how parenting preparation for new fathers is becoming a middle class preserve

A secure home is fundamental to securing life chances

By Hannah Gousy

Last year, 57,750 households in England were found to be homeless, six per cent more than the year before. The number of people sleeping on the street has also risen dramatically by 30 per cent over the last year.

Behind each of these statistics is the story of people in turmoil, as the CSJ hears constantly from our alliance of over 350 poverty-fighting charities.

A secure, suitable home is fundamental to tackling poverty and supporting the life chances of the poorest in society. Without it, adults can struggle to maintain employment or provide the environment that will help their children to flourish. It can also worsen people’s existing vulnerabilities, such as drug addictions and mental health conditions, destabilise family and support networks and push people further from the labour market.

It does not have to be this way, as there are cost effective ways of preventing more people from becoming homeless.

The Department for Communities and Local Government Select Committee published a report on homelessness this week calling for the Government to renew its homelessness strategy.

The report supports a Private Member’s Bill brought forward by Conservative MP, Bob Blackman, which seeks to introduce a new duty for local authorities to intervene earlier; help applicants find accommodation; and provide emergency accommodation for 56 days for all those who would otherwise be forced to sleep on the streets.

The report also calls for an important Cross-Departmental Government strategy and more effective oversight of the work carried out by local authorities to tackle homelessness.

Together this is a powerful package. We would encourage the Government to consider it carefully as adopting these recommendations could be a cost-effective way of helping support some of the most vulnerable in society in their time of need. 

The Centre for Social Justice is currently working on a major research project on how to tackle homelessness. 

CapX: How to provide stable homes, boost life chances, and save taxpayer money