Iain Duncan Smith is a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, founded the Centre for Social Justice, and is MP for Chingford and Woodford Green.
Family Breakdown and Counselling
When the Centre for Social Justice published the report Breakthrough Britain in 2007, we looked at the five pathways to poverty: Debt, worklessness, addiction, failed education and Family breakdown and produced an in depth report on each. Taking extensive evidence from those organisations, particularly the voluntary ones which worked to help counter these problems as they occurred, we set out a significant number of policy options for the Government.
The paper on family breakdown made a number of recommendations. Amongst them, and perhaps the least noticed, was the finding that a significant number of couples, including married couples in difficulty, could stabilise and improve when supported by proper counselling. Whilst not the most exciting to the media, the consequences of family instability are enormous in terms of its effect on the well-being of the nation.
Cut Family Breakdown Aid is a Retrograde Step
Yet as we run towards the budget, I am told that the Government is reviewing this commitment, with Civil Servants tasked with drawing up plans to cut the existing funding going to marriage guidance and other relationship counselling. I strongly believe this would be a retrograde step as the already damaging effects of family breakdown would only get worse without such support.
In case the Government hasn’t put this money in context, the following makes the scale of the problem clear and, with it, how marriage guidance and relationship support have helped re-stabilise so many families.
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There has been a large outcry from organisations and health authorities regarding the decision to reduce funding to help prevent family breakdown when demand is increasing rather than diminishing it has to be seen as a retrograde step.