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Lord Freud warns: family breakdown ‘costs taxpayers £46bn’

Welfare minister Lord Freud has spoken out about the true cost of divorce and family breakdown in Britain being  “far higher” and “far deeper” than the multi-billion pound benefits bill, in an article on The Daily Telegraph.

He said that government has a ‘clear duty’ to strengthen families. According to Lord Freud the current £9 billion cost to the taxpayer of lone parent benefits is just the tip of the iceberg and the full social cost of separation should be taken into account.

Lord Freud pointed to a study by the think-tank Relationships Foundation estimating that family breakdown in the UK currently costs the public purse £46 billion a year – or £1,541 for every taxpayer.

The estimated cost of family breakdown includes spending on children in care and a proportion of the costs of the health, education and criminal justice systems. A series of studies have linked family breakdown with children failing at school, becoming unemployed, getting involved in crime and suffering mental health problems.

Speaking on the topic in the Lords, he also said that the government should actively attempt to reverse the “major structural changes” in society which lead away from marriage and towards cohabitation.

He also called for marriage to be “put back into its rightful place” as unmarried parents are four times as likely to separate than those who tie the know. The Coalition should make “no apology” for saying that it has a “clear duty” to strengthen the family, 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,” 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”.

Later this year the government will be publishing the findings from the cross government Family Stability Review – to help understand family formation, stability and breakdown and where investment is needed to further tackle this problem.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. JamesB says:

    Yes, it is costly. Billing fathers as they lack lobbyists makes it even worse.

  2. JamesB says:

    Billing fathers through the csa / cmec / child maintenance service as per the below article is what I mean by that. The root cause needs looking at. The root cause being bad family law – I.e. the politicians and Judges. Pre nups or proper fault divorce, just billing the fathers is making it worse as it is the women who do the going solo way as they get more money that way.

  3. Paul says:

    Another politician who doesn’t walk the talk. He moans about the cost to the nation of family breakdown. Where is Freud though when it comes to doing something about it, like support for the ex children’s minister Tim Loughton’s attempt to garner parliamentary support for legal shared parenting? Nowhere to be seen. Another idiot who tells his tale, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  4. Luke says:

    £46 Billion – funny stuff – this is how they justify the number:

    “The estimate includes spending on children in care and a proportion of the costs of the health, education and criminal justice systems.”

    In other words they are just pulling a number out of their rear end 🙂

  5. says:

    As per Lord Freud, family breakdown is costly. Yes it is costly as it makes people in charge of all their expenses. But by contacting lawyers they can sort it out. As there are many rules in divorce procedure. He was correct in saying that children who are a member for breakdown family gets involved in criminal activities due to lack of attention.

  6. Paul says:

    Puff, puff, puff.

  7. Pete says:

    Funny how nothing is said about over paid lawyers abusing the legal aid system and parents being denied access to children.

  8. Yvie says:

    Making it more profitable for woman to go it alone is the root cause of all the problems. Governments have only themselves to blame for this. Its no good locking the stable door when the horse as bolted. It will take a long time to put this right, if ever. I agree with Paul, that instead of backing Tim Loughton in his credible efforts to encourage shared parenting, David Cameron shuffled him sideways instead. Unfortunately Governments lack the will to introduce shared parenting for fear of upsetting too many lobbying groups. Its so much easier to berate absent fathers and deadbeat dads in an attempt to lay the blame on their shoulders. They should be fully supporting theses fathers to have an proactive role in the lives of their children instead of paying too much attention to the scaremongers and opponents of shared care. It works in other countries so why not the UK?

  9. Tristan says:

    It’s called the “Harmanisation” of society following the social policy advocated by Harriet Harman and others in the 1990’s.

    Her most notorious contribution is perhaps “The Family Way” written in 1990 with her fellow feminists, Anne Coote and Patricia Hewitt. As an anti-father tract from a politician it is unparalleled in its claims that “families didn’t necessarily need fathers”. We see her toxic legacy in sink estates all over the country today. And she’s was still shadow deputy prime minister the last time I looked.

  10. Yvie says:

    Why do these harridans always seem to get promotion? Interestingly, I was watching a review of the papers on Sky news recently, when Harriet Harman’s name came up in relation to PIE. One of the reviewers became quite indignant that Harriet Harman was getting such bad press, and made the comment that ‘everyone knows how much Harriet Harman has done for families’. Perhaps I am missing something here.

  11. Stitchedup says:

    Feminism, Women’s Aid and the like will eventually destroy the family, just as Erin Pizzey predicted.

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