11 September 2013
UK: Government adviser calls for poor women to be coerced into contraception
Mothers in some large problem families should be taken to the doctors for advice about contraception to stop them having children, Louise Casey, the head of the government's troubled families programme, has said.
Casey said that women in problem families have to accept that having another child “might not be the best solution”. She suggested that instead of having more children they should “do something for themselves” such as “getting a job” or “improving their health”, the Daily Telegraph reports.
She made the comments as new figures are claimed to show that that the lives of 14,000 of England’s most disruptive families have been turned around under the £650million programme, a ten-fold increase in the past year. England’s 120,000 problem families are alleged to cost taxpayers an estimated £9billion a year in benefits, crime, anti-social behaviour and health care.
Previous research has suggested that many of them are larger-than-average families. Miss Casey is leading a scheme to turn their lives around after they were blamed for the riots in 2011.
Miss Casey, who previously advised Tony Blair’s government, said:
“My own personal experience is that families with lots of children across lots of different age groups are stretched. Managing a 21-year-old that’s still living with you that’s committing crime down to having another one that’s two, anybody would see that that’s a challenge. Having a baby might not be the best solution, and actually doing something just for themselves like getting a job, getting on a course, getting their health sorted out could be the right thing to do. The best family intervention gets into the family and helps them see what’s the best way for them to go forward. Sometimes adding another child isn’t right.”
Asked whether that included accompanying women to go to the doctor to get advice about contraception, she replied: “Yes that’s right. I’ve come across cases where that’s what some family intervention project workers have done, definitely.”
Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, hailed the number of families whose lives have been turned around as “phenomenal”. He said that officials should not be afraid of “inflicting pain” on troubled families to stop them from “ruining” their lives. He said that the traditional approach to troubled families has been “a lot of empathy” and “a lot of feeling people’s pain”.
“Louise is not afraid of inflicting that pain,” he said. “It’s tough love. I think we’re not doing this to be unpleasant to people, we are doing this to say you are ruining your life, you are ruining the lives of your children. If we don’t do something now 25 years from now we’ll be dealing with your children. That gives people a chance.”
The average annual cost to the state of such a family is £15,000, reports the Telegraph, but ministers say the worst cost as much as £330,000 a year. Despite the cost, most spending goes towards reacting to their problems, rather than trying to turn around their lives.
Under the programme one dedicated official takes responsibility for the troubled families. They help ensure that children go to school, that adults attend job interviews and that levels of antisocial behaviour are reduced. Families are considered to be “turned around” if several measures are met, including if children go back to school, adults are taken off benefits and levels of criminal behaviour are reduced.
The government set up the troubled families programme after the riots in the summer of 2011 convinced the Government that tougher action was required to tackle the poorest neighbourhoods. Under the scheme, families who refuse help will be threatened with sanctions such as losing their council housing, having their children put into care or anti-social behaviour orders which, if breached, can lead to prison.
David Cameron said: “I am determined that we help people to get on in life including those families where things may be going wrong. For some, that starts with attending school every day, staying out of trouble with the police and taking practical steps towards work, just as other families do. Every month, more and more of the most troubled families are getting help to deal with these issues head-on. That is good for those families, their community and our country as a whole.”
Mr Pickles said: “This is a centre right approach to dealing with deprivation. In a way we have been fighting a process for many years when all the ideas of how to deal with it came from the left. You [the left] have had the best part of 40 years on this, and you have failed.”
Mothers in problem families should be given contraception, government adviser says. Daily Telegraph, 10 September 2013