Press release

PM: Families are the key to ending poverty

David Cameron will announce a doubling of government funding for relationship support and pledge to take action to deal with poor parenting.

  • government to double funding for relationship support to £70 million
  • Prime Minister to underline importance of strong families in preventing poverty
  • Prime Minister: We’ve got to start talking about parenting and taking action to get it right

The Prime Minister will announce a doubling of government funding for relationship support and pledge to take bold action to deal with poor parenting in a speech tomorrow.

The Prime Minister will set out the importance of strong families in helping to prevent poverty and give children the best start in life, as he announces a government commitment to double funding for relationship support to £70 million over the next 5 years.

The money, which will fund relationship support and counselling for couples, run by the likes of Relate, Marriage Care and One Plus One, is a doubling of the £35 million commitment over the last Parliament – which helped 160,000 couples.

With families that break apart twice as likely to experience poverty than families who stay together, the Prime Minister will say that strengthening families is at the heart of this government’s agenda over the next 5 years.

While there can be circumstances where it is right for a couple to split, this funding provides vital money to those who need it and the opportunity to get support. And it is expected to help at least 300,000 more couples over the next 5 years and train more that 10,000 professionals in providing support and preventing relationship breakdown.

In a wide ranging speech, the Prime Minister is also expected to speak about the importance of strong parenting, saying we must make parenting classes more accessible for all families. He will also announce plans to use the Troubled Families programme so parenting skills and child development become central to how it is delivered.

On relationship support, the Prime Minister is expected to say:

Families are the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.

They are a welfare, education and counselling system all wrapped up into one.

Children in families that break apart are more than twice as likely to experience poverty as those whose families stay together.

That’s why strengthening families is at the heart of our agenda.

He will go onto say:

In the end, getting parenting and the early years right isn’t just about the hardest-to-reach families, it’s about everyone.

We all have to work at it. And if you don’t have a strong support network – if you don’t know other mums or dads, having your first child can be enormously isolating.

Of course they don’t come with a manual, but is it right that all of us get so little guidance?

We’ve made progress. We’ve dramatically expanded the number of health visitors, and that is crucial.

But it deals with one particular part of parenting – the first few weeks and months.

What about later on, when it comes to good play, communication, behaviour and discipline? We all need more help with this – the most important job we’ll ever have.

So I believe we now need to think about how to make it normal – even aspirational to attend parenting classes…

…So I can announce today that our Life Chances Strategy will include a plan for significantly expanding parenting provision. It will examine the possible introduction of a voucher scheme for parenting classes and recommend the best way to incentivise parents to take them up.

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive at Relate said:

We are delighted by today’s announcement of increased funding for relationship support, something that Relate has long been calling for. Relationship support can help to reduce family breakdown, which is a key driver of poverty and can result in poor outcomes for children. Relationships are under increasing pressure. Currently over a million people every year access support from Relate, but this is just the tip of the iceberg and we know many more would benefit from our services. This funding could make a real difference to the life chances of thousands of children.

Notes to editors

The Troubled Families initiative, launched in 2012 is aimed at helping the hardest to reach families by getting parents into work, ending truancy and cutting anti-social behaviour. The government has pledged to work with a further 400,000 families over the course of the Parliament.

The £70 million relationship support funding will be spread over the course of the Parliament. The funding will be administered through contracts with a range of organisations, including charities and local authorities. Tenders for some of the relationship support provision were released in November last year. Successful bidders will be notified in the next few weeks. The organisations who have bid to deliver this support are from the family and relationship support sector, most of whom have extensive knowledge and experience in delivering family and couple support.

Published 10 January 2016