No More 2.4: Britain Wakes up to Modern Family Forms

By Scottish Widows, PRNE
Sunday, December 4, 2011

EDINBURGH, Scotland, December 6, 2011 -

Groundbreaking new think tank finds half of people believe society’s view of family is out of date

THE traditional 2.4 British family is a thing of the past, with eight out of 10 people now describing their family set-up as not traditional, or not conforming to the stereotypical two married parents with two or more children. The majority of people feel their family is unrepresented by politicians, the media and advertising with 52 per cent claiming the Government does not take their family set-up into account.

Research from the Centre for the Modern Family, a new think tank launched by Scottish Widows to improve the understanding of the challenges facing modern British families, reveals that just 16 per cent of people define themselves as part of a ‘traditional’ family of two married parents living together with two or more children.  Instead, the findings indicate family structures are becoming increasingly diverse.  A quarter of all couples are childless, and one in five lives alone.      

As a result of this, half of the population believe society is out of date in its view of the family.  In addition to married mums and dads with two or more children, Britons are increasingly likely to describe single-parent, same-sex, or unmarried couples as ‘proper’ families.  

Made up of experts in family life, including Professor Tanya Byron, Dr Samantha Callan, Centre for Social Justice, Dr Katherine Rake, Family and Parenting Institute and Dr Husna Ahmed, CEO of the Faith Regen Foundation, the Centre for the Modern Family aims to explore the consequences of changing attitudes to family life.  

‘Proper’ Family Life

Some of the most striking research findings centre on people’s attitudes to what constitutes a “proper family”. Fifty seven per cent of people no longer believe that a couple with children have to be married to be a family. Beyond the subject of marriage, 77 per cent of people believe that single parents can be a proper family; and 59 per cent believe that same sex couples can be a family.

However, a significant minority of people disagree with these views indicating a strong polarisation of opinion.  A third, 34 per cent, thinks that a couple should be married to be a family.  Just under a third, 29 per cent, believe that same sex couples are not a proper family, and almost one in five, 17 per cent, feel that single parents are not a proper family.  

Valued or Judged?

Half of respondents feel that society is out of date with its view of the family.  Almost a quarter, 22 per cent, do not believe their family is valued by society and almost a fifth, 18 per cent, feel judged because of their family set-up.  

More than half don’t think that the Government takes their family into account and 55 per cent do not think their family set-up is portrayed by the media, on television or in advertising. Interestingly, a quarter of people believe that businesses do not cater for their type of family.

Professor Tanya Byron said: “Family is the spine of society.  Everyone comes from a family, everyone has an opinion on family, and without this vital support network many of us would simply break. At a time of continued social change and as the financial squeeze on families gets even tighter, The Centre for the Modern Family aims to improve understanding, and ultimately strengthen families - in all their varied forms - across the country.”

Lord Leitch, Chair of Centre for the Modern Family, said: “As a business established to support families, Scottish Widows has created a new think tank to help us better understand the complex support networks that we draw on throughout our lives.  This research raises a number of important issues about British families. The Centre for the Modern Family has been created to address these important issues which have such a huge affect on society. “

Notes to Editors

About the Centre for the Modern Family

The Centre for the Modern Family aims to improve the understanding of the challenges facing British families, by providing insight and perspectives for Government, businesses, media, communities and faith groups to help improve family lives.  

Established in November 2011, the Centre has produced groundbreaking, in-depth research with families across the country, the first of its kind to look at how we feel about family life.  In addition, the Centre has created a distinguished panel of expert family commentators, drawn together from academia, industry, government and entertainment, who have analysed the research findings and committed to working together on future research.

The research and expert views have been combined in a comprehensive report to provide a guide to everyone from governments to companies and charities to communicate effectively with British families and help them understand the challenges they face and the support they need.  The Centre for the Modern Family is a long-term project.  The panel will work together to agree new areas of research for further consideration in the months and years ahead.  

The research and further information on the panel can be found at  

About the research

The research was completed by the Futures Company and the findings are based on a nationally representative survey of 3,000 adults aged 16 and over living in Great Britain.  The survey was conducted by telephone, not through an online poll, as part of in-depth interviews with individuals on their attitudes to family life in Britain today.  It is the first research report of its kind that looks at attitudes to family life and further research will be completed in 2012.

About the author

Liz Fraser is the best-selling author of three parenting books, a family commentator on BBC Breakfast news, ITV1’s Daybreak and This Morning, Sky News and many others, and a BBC Radio presenter.  A Cambridge science graduate and mother of three, Liz is currently writing her fourth book, and is the author of Family.

The panel
Chair - Lord Leitch, Chairman of Scottish Widows

Dr Husna Ahmad, OBE, Faith Regen Foundation
Sarah King, Managing Director, The Futures Company  
Daisy Asquith, Documentary Film Maker
Professor Tanya Byron, Psychologist
Dr Samantha Callan,  Centre for Social Justice
Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology  
James Daley, Which?
Prof Jane Elliott, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Reverend Jeremy Fraser, Curate East Greenwich Team Ministry
Professor Susan Golombok, University of Cambridge
Jenny Powell, Television presenter
Dr Katherine Rake, Family and Parenting Institute
Laurie Taylor, Birkbeck College, University of London
Richard Jones, Marketing Director, Scottish Widows

About Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows was founded in 1815 as Scotland’s first mutual life office. Becoming part of the Lloyds TSB Group in 2000, which subsequently became Lloyds Banking Group in 2009, Scottish Widows is one of the most recognised brands in the life, pensions and investment industry in the UK.


For further information, contact: Jo Swift, Cohn & Wolfe, Tel: +44(0)20-7331-5476/ +44(0)7811-200716,; Ross Keany, Scottish Widows, Tel: +44(0)131-655-5354/ +44(0)7876-475815,



will not be displayed