It can refrain from promoting the social and economic conditions which breed "disaster families". It can ensure that poor families do not pay proportionately more of their income in taxes than rich ones; it can ensure that if a couple on benefits live together, their joint income is not lower than if they live apart; it can use the tax and benefit systems to alleviate the loss of income and extra costs which child-rearing entails; it can use the maintenance system to ensure that fathers are not financially better off as a result of dumping their wives and children.
In short, a government can recognise that its role in family life need not be solely an authoritarian, punitive one, which comes into effect only when the family has become a "disaster". That route is precisely the one the present government has been following: the results can hardly be described as useful.
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