UK taxpayers stump up £41 billion a year to cover the cost of family breakdown, a new report has claimed.
Among the costs are £12.38bn for tax and benefits payments to broken families and £8.03bn for civil and criminal justice spending, according to the study.
Think-tank the Relationships Foundation produced the report, which put the cost to individual taxpayers at £1,350 a year.
The Cambridge-based organisation said that family breakdown “reduces health, wealth and wellbeing”.
It added that in the current economic situation the cost is “unsustainable”.
The final totals were arrived at by adding together a number of different costs to the taxpayer which come about as a result of family breakdown.
Executive Director of the Relationships Foundation, Michael Trend, said: “This report deals with the unpopular truth that choices have costs and consequences, and that these are not always borne by the choice-maker.”
He said that “reduced health, wealth and wellbeing all put more pressure on relationships making the cycle of breakdown more likely to continue”.
Tory leader David Cameron has recently called Britain a “broken society”, saying family breakdown is at the root of many of the problems facing the country.
And at the weekend a poll for The Times newspaper showed 70 per cent of respondents believed society is now broken.
At the beginning of this month social commentator Melanie Phillips, writing in the Daily Mail, drew attention to the need to encourage marriage in order to halt a breakdown in moral and social behaviour.
She said the erosion of marriage was key to the “disintegration” of the family and wider society, and that the only solution was to protect the institution with “a web of formal and informal laws, conventions and attitudes”.
In 2008 a report from the Good Childhood Inquiry identified family relationships as being central to children’s wellbeing.
One the report’s authors commented that it is not just the event of family breakdown itself but the life that has to be lived afterwards that causes harm.
Later in 2008 Barbara Wilding, then Chief Constable of South Wales Police, said family breakdown was driving teenagers into a “gang culture based on violence and drugs”.
Last year the Shadow Home Secretary blamed the devaluing of marriage for producing a generation of children who do not know right from wrong.
Chris Grayling said in a speech at Westminster: “Family breakdown has reached a scale where many young people grow up with no vestige of stability in their lives, and no concept of a family-focused upbringing.”