The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 3:17 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact 3:17 pm, 26th May 2016

I do indeed. I also think that we should include family instability in that statutory footing.

Yesterday, Relate published a report on couple relationship distress in the UK. It states:

“Good quality, couple, family and social relationships are the basis of a thriving society…central to our health and wellbeing…poor quality relationships have far-reaching consequences. Inter-parental relationships have…been recognised…as a major determinant of children’s life chances.”

However, Relate’s analysis estimates that almost one in five of adult couple relationships in the UK could be characterised as a distressed relationship, meaning one with a severe level of relationship problems that has a clinically significant negative effect on a partner’s wellbeing. The figure for partners with children under 16 is even higher. Encouragingly, however, Relate also says:

“A broad range of relationship support services are effective at improving relationship quality.”

I hope Ministers will read the report and note its recommendation that we need to

“expand access to a spectrum of support for good quality relationships, overcoming barriers of accessibility, availability, and affordability to ensure that anyone who needs it can benefit from support.”

I look forward to the publication of the Government’s life chances strategy. I hope that it recognises that poverty of relationships is a severe limiter of life chances, and that substantially increased support for stronger family relationships is needed in every local community. It is important to provide somewhere in every locality where people can go for such support and advice, at any stage in their family life—whether they are starting a family, bringing up toddlers or teenagers, coping with supporting an elderly parent, or simply a couple going through a rocky patch.

The troubled families initiative has been successful in providing intervention and support at a crisis stage. Let us learn from that, but provide support much earlier, when families feel they need help. Let us normalise asking for help and providing it. There cannot be a family in the land that would not benefit.