Charities and parliamentarians join forces to put relationships at the forefront of economic recovery

11 November 2013

Leading relationships charities have joined forces to create an alliance which aims to put strong and stable relationships at the heart of a thriving society. The Relationships Alliance, comprising of Relate, Marriage Care, the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and OnePlusOne, officially launches in the House of Commons today. Charities and parliamentarians will outline why couple, family and social relationships must play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery.

Relationship breakdown will cost the UK economy almost £50 billion in 2013*, with poor relationship quality leading to family breakdown costing each tax payer an estimated £1,470 per year. Today, Andrew Selous MP (Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions), Jon Cruddas MP (Labour’s Policy Review Co-ordinator) and Baroness Tyler of Enfield (Liberal Democrat Peer, Vice President of Relate and Chair of CAFCASS) will voice their support for good quality relationships being central to the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and society as a whole. A statement of support will also be read out from Edward Timpson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families.

Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate, said: “Relationship breakdown has far-reaching effects for our society, both financial and social. One cannot be treated in isolation from the other and the country can ill afford either.

“We know that relationship quality affects people of all ages. Children who live in more harmonious households have better health and are more likely to succeed at school. For adults, poorer relationship quality impacts employment and is associated with higher levels of smoking and substance abuse. And as we grow older, loneliness and social isolation are even linked to an increased risk of mortality.

“But we can change this. The services provided by the Relationship Alliance partners are changing lives and, given the right prominence and funding, can ultimately help to tackle the unsustainable cost of poor quality relationships.”

Edward Timpson MP said, “I believe that strong and stable families are the backbone of a strong and stable society; the key to making sure children grow up in a loving environment and develop into healthy and fulfilled adults. And we know all to well the consequences for families, and children in particular, when that stability and strength is lacking. Which is why, this Government has been so keen to provide significant funding for the relationship support sector, which, of course, includes support for the Alliance.”

The Alliance has made four recommendations which will help to place relationships centre stage in Government policy:

  1. Government should bring forward a new and comprehensive cross-government couple, family and social relationships strategy.
  2. Government should require local authorities to publish a dedicated relationships strategy so that couple, family and social relationships become established as a core responsibility of local government.
  3. Directors of Public Health should be required to measure the quality of couple, family and social relationships.
  4. Services designed to help people at life transition points such as getting married, becoming a parent, becoming a carer, retiring or being bereaved should include a focus on couple, family and social relationships, their impact on wellbeing, how to maintain relationship quality and how to manage conflict.