The senior Conservative who warned parts of Birmingham experienced crushing poverty has called for a new measures to strengthen marriage, including a cooling-off period for couples considering divorce.
Supporting families and giving children a better start in life is the key to ending long-term poverty in Britain’s inner cities, according to the Centre for Social Justice, a think-tank led by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.
In a study published in 2007, he warned that Birmingham must tackle unemployment and social breakdown before it can call itself “a truly great city”.
Unemployment in the city was higher than other similar cities in Britain, and no-one has a job in a quarter of city households, the report warned.
The new proposals are designed to deal with some of the issues identified by Mr Duncan Smith in his inquiries into Birmingham and other major cities across Britiain.
A compulsory delay before divorce would allow estranged husbands and wives to reflect on their marriage and explore the possibility of reconciliation before making their split permanent, according to the Centre for Social Justice.
Other proposals include backing a tax break to promote marriage and reversing Labour proposals to give new rights to unmarried couples who live together.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “Instead of giving cohabitees similar legal rights as married couples, which would only undermine marriage, we have to do more to warn people that they can only secure the legal protection of marriage by getting married. The cooling off period and the requirement for estranged couples to get information about the implications will help to save some marriages.”
Another recommendation, based on an Australian scheme, would involve sending warring couples to counselling centres.
The Government should also give “strong encouragement” to people embarking on marriage to attend classes.