Family break up: Social impact far deeper than financial cost

The social cost of family breakdown is “far higher and its impacts far deeper” than the financial cost, a Government minister has said.

Writing online for The Telegraph, Lord Freud said the Government has a “clear duty” to support stable families for the sake of children.

He highlighted the upcoming marriage tax break, as well as the Government’s ongoing Family Stability Review, which will help shape future policy.


Earlier this week Lord Freud spoke about the issue in the House of Lords, where he said the Government “believes that marriage is a valuable institution”.

He said there are “some structural and major societal changes” behind an increase in cohabitation, and “it will take an enormous amount of effort to start putting marriage back into its rightful place”.

“That is exactly one of the things that we are looking to do with the Family Stability Review”, he said.


Lord Freud said the “wider societal costs” of family breakdown must also be acknowledged alongside the financial cost, which has been put at around £46 billion by one family think-tank.

In his Telegraph article, he said: “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.”

Commenting on Lord Freud’s remarks, the Centre for Social Justice think-tank said the wider cost of family breakdown is “immeasurable and drives much of the social problems we see across Britain”.


Director of the group, Christian Guy, said: “It is worrying that a 16-year-old is now more likely to have a television in their bedroom than a father at home.

“A mature debate about the importance of family stability and marriage could not be more urgent.”

The Relationships Foundation – which is behind the £46bn family breakdown figure – commented: “When relationships go right society as a whole benefits, but when they go wrong we all pay a price.”

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