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He contributes nothing financially - which is not a problem as she receives around £400 a week in benefits, made up of child benefit, housing benefit, family tax credit and disability living allowance because the twins, Mackenzie and Matthew, were born four months prematurely.

'I think my twins will be much better being brought up with me as a single mum. 'I don't think children necessarily need a father figure, and anyway they have my dad around.

Those that do so believe they have no need for a man in their life and that their children have no need for a father.

The choices they make mean that many of them are condemning themselves and their children to a lifetime of dependency on Britain's generous benefits system.

When you tot it up, it took Kayleigh Watson three men and a year of trying to become a single mother at 17.

'I was worried I might be infertile and unable to have a baby,' she says.

And the implications for children raised in these families are bleak.'Charlie Murray from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire is raising her two-year-old twins alone after falling pregnant when she was 17.