Fiona Bruce MP, who as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Strengthening Couple Relationships, has been pressing Government for years to provide support to strengthen family relationships, has welcomed a Government announcement of support for children and families facing relationship challenges, including a new £30 million programme to help parents resolve conflict and improve children’s chances of succeeding in life.
As part of the Government’s work to improve all children’s life chances, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced a series of new steps to help workless families, families affected by addiction, and to ‘reduce parental conflict through the launch of an innovative new programme to support evidence-based interventions delivered by specialist organisations at a local level – saving money and transforming lives by giving parents, whether together or separated, the right help before things get worse.’ This last step is very important for children’s wellbeing and life-chances; as the Work and Pensions Secretary wrote in The Times, ‘A child’s emotional and educational success is underpinned by the relationship between their parents. Warring parents, whether together or separated, have a hugely negative impact on their children. When exposed to frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict, children are at risk of being held back in their education and in later life. So we need to address both the quality of parental relationships and the problem of families where no one works.’
Fiona Bruce MP said:
‘Children’s mental well-being, educational achievement, and life-chances are all deeply affected by the health of their family relationships – especially their parents’ relationship. The Government is right to recognise this, and I am delighted that they are taking steps to help parents work though conflicts and build stronger and more stable relationships, for their own good and for the good of their children.’
‘Helping people – particularly those who may never have experienced positive role models in their early lives – build stronger family bonds, has the potential to make a substantial difference to the lives of many struggling families across the country – and make a real difference to the future of so many children.
‘The Government is also right to maintain a focus on worklessness. The evidence shows that worklessness generally makes family life much harder, and therefore affects children’s prospects. The fact that there are 590,000 fewer children in workless households since I entered Parliament in 2010 is something the Government should be proud of – and we must build on that success, because there is much more progress that needs to be made to ensure that all children in our country grow up healthy, secure, and able to achieve their dreams.’
Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, said:
‘I don’t want any child to be defined by the circumstances of their birth. Every child should benefit from a strong relationship between their parents – whether they are together or separated.
‘Today marks the start of new support to help families overcome the problems they face to make sure that every child can go as far as their talents will take them.’
The Government’s new publication Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families outlines some of the proposals here:
‘This Government wants the parents of these children to have the chance to earn a living, and to overcome the issues that hold them back. We will:
- Set out the next phase of the Government’s Troubled Families Programme so that it has an even greater emphasis on helping people back into work and tackling the disadvantages associated with worklessness. We will do this by building on the strengths of the current programme – its focus on supporting the whole family by understanding how issues interconnect; and its role in driving local service reform.
- Reduce parental conflict through the launch of an innovative new programme to support evidence-based interventions delivered by specialist organisations at a local level – saving money and transforming lives by giving parents, whether together or separated, the right help before things get worse.
- Set new expectations for Jobcentre Plus to identify people with complex needs at the right time, to strengthen partnership working with local authorities, wider public services, and the voluntary sector, to share information more effectively between partners and work with local strategic boards to more efficiently address claimants’ needs.
- Tackle dependency by implementing recommendations made by Dame Carol Black’s review of employment and drug and alcohol dependency. We will bring forward a trial of the Individual and Placement Support approach to help those dependent on drugs and alcohol back into employment, build a network of peer mentors to help those dependent on drugs and alcohol move into work and expand eligibility for Access to Work grant funding to provide those on a treatment programme with the support they need to enter or continue work.’