In 1987 Thatcher famously made her society speech:
"There is no such thing as society; there are individual men and women, and there are families."
Mrs. Thatcher was quite vocal when it came to the relationship between the individual and society, and was heavily influenced by American right leaning thinkers who advocated that the welfare state gave birth to, and nurtured, an underclass of individuals who were, frankly, irresponsible.
The prime minister voiced her opinions about single parenthood and claimed, on more than one occasion, that many single women with children had become so in order to claim benefits and a council flat.
In fact, Thatcher considered single parents to be a social and economic burden. Her values regarding the family were Victorian, some would say draconian, and she believed that only the conventional family should be recognized; not unmarried couples, however stable, and certainly not same sex couples.
During a speech in Kentucky in 1998, long after her resignation as PM, Thatcher claimed that:
"It is far better to put these children [of single parents] in the hands of a very good religious organisation, and the mother as well, so that they will be brought up with family values." Thatcher also maintained that welfare provision to single mothers had exacerbated the problem, which indeed was the view she held whilst in office.
According to Jonathan Shaw, Senior Research Economist at the IFS, the number of children living in poverty rose from 1.8 million when Thatcher was elected, to 3.6 million by the time of her resignation.