Release Date: 
Tuesday 28th January 2014

An independent new evaluation of relationship support services has demonstrated clear financial and emotional benefits to individuals and society as a whole. Specifically, the Department for Education-commissioned report found that Relate’s couple counselling and Marriage Care’s marriage preparation services deliver £11.40 and £11.50 of benefit respectively for every £1 spent*. This is calculated by looking at what costs are saved by reducing the likelihood of relationship breakdown.

The Department of Education commissioned the independent evaluation as part of the Prime Minister’s commitment to relationship support. Relationship breakdown is estimated to cost the UK economy £46 billion each year**, with often devastating and long-lasting emotional effects for individuals and families. The report looked at services offered at different stages of a couple’s relationship: marriage preparation, short relationship education classes and couple counselling. All services were found to be associated with positive impacts, with marriage preparation and couple counselling in particular leading to positive changes in wellbeing and relationship quality.

The Relationships Alliance, a group of leading charities which aims to put strong and stable relationships at the heart of a thriving society, welcomes the report. Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate (which is part of the Alliance), said:

“We are delighted that this report demonstrates the financial and social benefits of services provided by Alliance members, providing further evidence of the case for investment in this area. Every day, we see first-hand the devastating impact that relationship breakdown can have – so we know that our work to help couples understand each other and have the tools to improve their relationships if they want to is absolutely crucial.” 

The report also found that people who used relationship support services were more likely to access support in the future. However the authors identified the need for improved signposting to these services so that more people can benefit throughout the course of their relationships. They also call for a clear strategy for relationship support which encourages central and local government and local public health departments to take account of the importance of adult couple relationships and their impact on health and wellbeing. 

Mark Molden, Chief Executive of Marriage Care, added:

“We welcome the report’s findings and recommendations. We know that relationship support works and we would encourage people of all ages to find out more about how the services evaluated in this report could help them at different stages of their relationships. We must also continue to help other professionals and service providers understand more about what we do, so that they can direct people to our services in their day to day work. It’s not just about getting support when there’s a crisis; it’s about building and maintaining strong relationships which see people through everything that happens during our increasingly busy and fast-paced lives.”

Further supporting these findings are the results of a DfE-funded Randomised Control Trial of OnePlusOne’s training programme for frontline practitioners working with families. The training was found to have a large and positive impact on the way that practitioners handled conversations with parents about their relationship difficulties, with practitioners who received the training more than twice as likely to be confident in knowing both where and how to refer parents on for further support. A link to the full trial’s results can be found here.

The Relationships Alliance comprises of Relate, Marriage Care, the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and OnePlusOne.

ENDS

For all media enquiries, including quotes from other members of the Relationships Alliance, contact Sarah Milsom on 020 7554 2892 or sarah.milsom@relate.org.uk. For urgent out of hours enquiries call 07971 869 735.

*All statistics and findings, unless otherwise stated, are from the Relationship Support Interventions Evaluation, January 2014 – a research report commissioned by the Department for Education. The report authors are: Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, National Foundation for Educational Research, Thomas Coram Research Unit and Qa Research. The study combined a quantitative methodology focussing on the impact of three interventions with a qualitative methodology aimed at exploring the experiences and views of participants and practitioners. This included: a literature review, quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews and a value for money analysis.

Read the full evalution report

**See Relationships Foundation

Notes to editors:

About the Relationships Alliance

Our vision is a future in which strong and stable couple, family and social relationships are the basis of a thriving society. 

The Relationships Alliance’s mission is to develop and support strong and stable couple, family and social relationships by:

  • Championing the importance of relationships so that they are valued in all aspects of public policy and across national and local government.
  • Helping the media, politicians, policy makers and public service providers to understand how relationships matter. 
  • Generating and disseminating high quality information, insight and research on the importance and impact of supporting relationships.
  • Growing the market place for relationship support so that more relationships are supported in more ways.
  • Developing the capacity of the local relationships support sector so that they are able to adapt to rapidly changing public policy.

The Relationships Alliance is kindly supported by the Department for Education, through the Prime Minister’s £30m commitment to investing in relationship support. 

Relate is the UK’s leading relationship support organisation. The charity celebrated its 75th birthday last year. For more information and advice visit www.relate.org.uk.

Marriage Care is the largest provider of marriage preparation services in England and Wales and is a national charity which helps couples and individuals build and sustain strong, fulfilling healthy relationships. It. For more information visit www.marriagecare.org.uk.

OnePlusOne is a national charity which aims to strengthen relationships. Based on latest research evidence, it promotes early action to equip couples to deal with relationship issues before they become entrenched. For more information go to www.oneplusone.org.uk

The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships undertakes research and policy activities which encourage the development and growth of effective and innovative relationship support services. TCCR is also a leading provider of practitioner training, and provider of affordable counselling and psychotherapy services. Visit www.tccr.org.uk and www.tccr.ac.uk

Ref:SMCSAllncDfE