Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith branded the current benefits system “morally wrong” as he claimed family breakdown has “damaged Britain dramatically”.
The former Tory leader also reiterated his support for marriage tax breaks, insisting not all relationships were equal.
He also warned that cohabiting parents were far more likely to split up than married parents.
The Conservatives are committed to recognising marriage in the tax system but fear Lib Dems will push it to the bottom of the government’s agenda.
Mr Duncan Smith dismissed claims that the policy was sexist and outdated as a “middle-class attitude”.
“What kind of a choice is it to live in a community where you are beset and you are trying to bring up kids without being able to pass on any concept of the right way to behave, that you have no man in your life who is responsible for those children, who either helps you financially or supports you; that when boys get to a certain age they no longer respect you; they don’t live with you, they don’t work with you?” he said.
He added: “This is not about choices, it’s a very middle-class attitude to say it is all about choices. The reality is family breakdown has damaged Britain dramatically.”