Supporting strengthening relationships ‘is a public health issue’ and the government must act, ministers say

15 January 2014

A cross-party group of MPs met for a parliamentary debate to discuss government’s increasing concern regarding relationship breakdown and its effect on public health.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce described the nature and extent of the nationwide problem of relationship breakdown as a ‘public health emergency.’

Minister for Children, David Simpson cited relationship charity OnePlusOne (a member of the Relationship Alliance launched in November 2013) as a key organisation in helping to establish ‘a much more coherent and cohesive message on what is available to those who need support.

director, Penny Mansfield, said: ‘Strengthening relationships has good outcomes for everyone, adults, children, employers, the community and taxyers.

‘It’s good that the government is putting an increasing emphasis on public health and that strengthening relationships should be seen as a public health issue.

‘Through our work, we are beginning to see the ways relationships can be strengthened early on, but this work needs to continue beyond the coalition government’s present commitment to fund it until 2015.’

Speaking during yesterday’s debate (January 14) Ms Bruce said: ‘I speak from the perspective that supporting relationships is a public health issue. The importance of relationships in preventing disease in prolonging life, health and well-being is becoming increasingly recognised, not only for partners in a relationship, but for their children, their wider family and the community at large.

‘Government have to act and treat it as a public health issue. In particular, we need to be concerned about the impact of family breakdown on those in the more deprived households. Relationships affect them more than others and the outcome for the children can be disproportionately serious.’

Mr Timpson said: ‘I believe that strong and stable families are the backbone of a strong and stable society. The key to ensuring that children grow up in a loving environment and develop into healthy and fulfilled adults. That is why the Government have invested significantly in supporting families and couple relationships.’

Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Children, Steve Mccabe who also attended the debate said: ‘When it comes to strengthening couple relationships, whatever the views of individuals, the law and society are clear: couple relationships can mean married, cohabiting, heterosexual and homosexual relationships, however difficult that is for some people to accept.’

A link to the full debate in Hansard can be seen here, listed at 2.30pm

Yesterday’s debate (January 14) was called by Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth.

OnePlusOne offers has a free online service that supports couples strengthen their relationships by tackling issues early on. To view the service, go to

For more information please contact Nadia Gilani at OnePlusOne on 020 7553 9538 or email