The government has announced plans to give free relationship counselling to new parents in an attempt to reduce family breakdown.
Under a Department for Work and Pensions scheme, health workers will be trained to “recognise and respond to the signs of relationship difficulties” between parents.
Couples are sometimes reluctant to actively seek out help, claimed Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, but may respond to a professional with whom they already have an established relationship.
A government source said that healthcare workers “are well placed to identify signs of relationship distress and signpost to appropriate support” as they “often have to deal with relationship issues in their regular contact with families”.
Earlier this month, the government launched its so-called ‘family test’ for all policies. They claim that all planned legislation will be scrutinised over the affect it will have on family life if implemented.
The government certainly seems very concerned with family life. In a speech to the GovKnow Social Justice Conference in London, Iain Duncan Smith said the government’s policies had started a “revolution” for families. He claimed that 250,000 more children are living with both parents since the start of the coalition.
Personally, I think it will be interesting to see how well this scheme actually works. Marriage is tough, so it can be quite easy for problems to build. However, just because there are difficulties, it does not mean the relationship is doomed. If issues are identified and addressed early, ideally before the process of uncoupling begins, then there’s a chance the scheme could prove useful. I suppose only time will tell.