£46bn: Cost of family failure remains very high


Our annual “Cost of Family Failure Index” continues to receive widespread attention. Most notably it was used by the Department for Education in their evaluation of the cost effectiveness of relationship support services including those provided by Relat...

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A welcome flexing of the muscles


Relationships Foundation welcomes the social justice strategy presented today by Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and chair of the social justice cabinet committee.

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Family policy has become a pawn in coalition politics


In today’s speech on the nature of an Open Society, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg included a widely-trailed swipe at marriage tax allowances, using cheap debating points not worthy of a sixth former.

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The Relationships Foundation Newsletter March 2011

Relationships Foundation asks: Where is the 'Macavity Committee' on Childhood and Families

The Childhood and Families Taskforce was announced by Nick Clegg in June 2010, and was due to report around the end of 2010. It was in part a response to organisations looking for detail on the government pledge to make the UK “the most family friendly country in Europe”. It is now nearly Spring and the taskforce has made no public statements. In the only written parliamentary question answered by the Prime Minister during the Parliamentary Recess, he reveals that he will say neither when it has met, which Ministers have attended, whether any specialists have attended, nor when he expects it to report.

Michael Trend, the Executive Director of the Relationships Foundation said:

“When we and others asked the coalition government shortly after the election to put family at the heart of policy – they told us this taskforce would do that. They have now delayed for months the question of how Britain will become the most family friendly country in Europe. Family stability has a huge impact on children, parents and on wider social issues. Until the Coalition realises that getting family life right delivers the biggest reform in almost every area of public life, it cannot hope to achieve its goals. This should be a national debate, not a discussion behind closed doors. A cross-government approach is needed, but only two departments are involved. Leadership is needed, but no-one knows who is in charge of family policy. This is a Macavity committee. When will the Government put flesh on the bones of their promises for family and children?”

Gavin Shuker MP, who tabled the question, said:

“The Government are in danger of giving false hope to family and children’s organisations up and down the country. This taskforce was announced with great fanfare. But coming up for three months after it was supposed to report, we still hear nothing. Stable families are in all our interests.”

Click here to read the full press release that was picked up here by the Daily Express.

How to make your voice heard

At the moment the Coalition government is consulting on many issues that interest us and our supporters. See below for how you can participate in the consultations and give your opinions:

We were pleased to see that the Office for National Statistics will collect data specifically about marriage in the wellbeing consultation, as we called for in an earlier press release. However, we were discouraged when one day later it was announced that the marital status of women who become pregnant will no longer be recorded. We are in the process of developing a detailed response. Please click here to give your own response to the consultation. This process will take approximately 10 minutes to complete and will close on 15 April 2011.

The Department for Work and Pensions has a public consultation entitled ‘Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance’. They would like to hear from all who are interested in child maintenance issues, particularly welcoming contributions from: parents who live apart, representative organisations for parents who live apart or their children, representatives of the legal profession, organisations that represent families and children, and members of the general public with an interest in child maintenance issues. The end date is 7 April 2011.

Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of the Mothers' Union, is carrying out an independent review entitled ‘Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood’ to address parents' concerns about the pressures on children to grow up too quickly. Reg is very keen to hear from parents on this issue and the questionnaire should take about 10 minutes to complete. The views submitted through this questionnaire (by 18 March) will help develop his recommendations which will be published in May. Click here for details.

The Department for Education also wants to hear opinions and evidence about the National Curriculum and start a debate about “what is taught in our schools”. By answering the questions in the call for evidence you can give your input to the discussion at this early stage. Click here for the details. The call closes on Thursday 14 April 2011.


The Law Commission is asking the public’s views on a range of potential options for reforming the law of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements – contracts made by couples before or during their marriage or civil partnership that are intended to govern their financial arrangements if the relationship ends. Click here to give your opinion. The consultation closes on 11 April 2011.

'Parents Under Pressure'

The Relationships Foundation contributed research findings to Sophie Raworth's documentary, 'Parents Under Pressure', shown on BBC2 on the 7th of March. The presenter travelled “across Britain to find out why parents seem to be bringing up a generation of kids who are unhappier, unhealthier and more unruly than they've ever been.” Click here for a BBC article on the programme and here for the video link to it.