Family breakdown costs taxpayer £47bn a year

Family breakdown is set to cost the taxpayer a staggering £47 billion in 2015, according to new figures released by a leading relationship think tank.

The Relationships Foundation’s ‘Cost of Family Failure Index’ calculates annually the economic effects on society as a result of families splitting up.

The Index analyses the cost of benefits, housing, health and social care, policing, the courts and education.

Human cost

These latest figures showed that there would be a £1,546 cost to each taxpayer a year, and disclosed an overall increase of £10 billion when compared to figures released in 2009 (£37 billion).

In a press release, the Foundation said, “the cost of family failure continues to rise”, but “the Index does not even begin to take into account the intense pain and suffering felt by those experiencing family failure”.

“It shows that family breakdown not only has a terrible human cost in terms of the emotional toll on all members of the family, but also an enormous financial cost to society as the taxpayer picks up the pieces.”

Systematic failure

The think tank then stated that it regarded family breakdown as being “driven by the trend away from marriage”.

Michael Trend, Executive Director of the Relationship Foundation, commented on the findings, saying, “if you sideline family policy you court systemic failure”.

He added: “If we as a country want to see real progress in improving wellbeing, increasing children’s life chances, higher educational attainment, less crime and reduced welfare dependency we need to take what this Index is telling us seriously.”

Domestic upheaval

In December a landmark study on family life found that more than one in three children underwent domestic upheaval, such as parental break-up, by the age of eleven.

In addition, it revealed that more than one in five children whose parents split up experienced emotional or behavioural problems.

The research from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies followed the lives of 13,000 children born in the year 2000.

Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation commented on the report saying: “Politicians can no longer safely ignore what these big national studies are telling us – that children whose parents don’t stay together face much higher risks to their well-being”.