The welfare minister Lord Freud has stated that family breakdown in Britain could cost the taxpayer £46bn.
In an article for The Telegraph the welfare minister stated that the government had a ‘clear duty’ to strengthen families. He also emphasised the importance of marriage, stating that matrimony should be ‘put back in its rightful place’ and that the Coalition should ‘make no apology’ for supporting marriage with measures like tax breaks.
Lord Freud drew attention to the huge cost of supporting families that have broken down, pointing out that the cost is “far higher” and “far deeper” than the multi-billion pound benefits bill.
“It would be easy to put a financial cost to society from family breakdown, but the social cost is far higher and its impacts far deeper,” he explained in his Telegraph article.
“On the face of it, we pay around £8.4 billion annually to lone parents in benefits and around £500 million a year running the Child Support Agency that administers more than a million child support cases. There are an estimated 2.5 million separated families with 4.1 million children – and one million lone parents claiming Housing Benefit in the current financial year”.
The cost of family breakdown in Britain includes a wide range of spending on services such as children in care as well as a proportion of the costs of the health, education and criminal justice systems.
The detrimental consequences of family breakdown have wide ranging and long lasting effects on individuals as well as society as a whole. A series of studies have linked family breakdown with children performing poorly at school, becoming unemployed, getting involved in crime and suffering from mental health problems.
Later this year a cross governmental study will be published – The Family Stability Review. The review will investigate family formation, stability and breakdown. It is hoped that the information collected will help policy makers to target areas and issues which need further investment to improve.