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Supporting relationships makes economic sense, says relationship charities’ manifesto

The future government should do more to support healthy couple, co-parenting and family relationships to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and make significant savings to the public purse. This is according to the Relationships Alliance 2017 Manifesto, launched in anticipation of the general election.

The manifesto was produced by The Relationships Alliance, a group of relationship support charities consisting of Relate, OnePlusOne, Tavistock Relationships and Marriage Care.  The Alliance is calling on all political parties to support strong and healthy relationships by making seven policy priorities a reality if elected. These priorities include introducing a cross-government relationships strategy with a cabinet Minister for Families and Relationships, funding free or subsidised relationship support for disadvantaged groups and expanding the successful IAPT Couple Therapy for Depression programme.

The Relationships Alliance members say that a robust agenda to support relationships would help to resolve parental conflict, reduce health demand, improve children’s educational attainment and ensure people can better protect themselves from shocks such as losing a job, debt, family breakdown, or long-term health conditions. Furthermore, these benefits would save the state millions of pounds.

The Alliance has based its manifesto priorities on a growing body of evidence demonstrating the value of relationship support services to society and the economy. For example, the Government’s own evaluation found that relationship counselling could save £11.40 for every £1 spent.* In addition, a recent evidence review by the University of Sussex and the Early Intervention Foundation found that the quality of the relationship between parents is a ‘primary influence’ on children’s outcomes.**

Speaking on behalf of the Relationships Alliance, Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive at leading relationships charity Relate, said: “Poor quality relationships are often at the root of so many of society’s problems including mental health issues, homelessness, debt and loneliness. By ensuring that relationship support is available to everyone who needs it, no matter what their income, we’re confident that any future government would see vast improvements in the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduced pressure on public services.

“That’s why we’re calling on all political parties to focus on the importance of relationships as a basis of a thriving society when compiling their manifestos, and to push this important agenda forward if they’re elected.  Investing in relationships makes economic sense but failing to do so will mean that money spent on public services could be wasted.”

Relationships Alliance Manifesto 2017 policy priorities

1. A new comprehensive cross-government relationships strategy, with a cabinet Minister for Families and Relationships.

2. Training for frontline practitioners about relationships.

3. Relationships and Sex Education must be taught by trained, confident experts in charities and specialist teachers.

4. Develop a clear focus on out-of-court alternative dispute resolution

5. Invest in a programme of universal information, self-help and preventative relationship support.

6. Fund provision of affordable (subsidised/free) relationship support for low-income and disadvantaged groups.

7. Expand the availability of couple therapy for depression within the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

To see the full version of The Relationships Alliance Manifesto 2017, including supporting evidence visit: http://tavistockrelationships.ac.uk/policy-research/alliance-relationships/1075-relationships-alliance-manifesto-2017