Marriage counselling and relationship support faces losing all of its government funding, a former cabinet minister has warned.
Iain Duncan Smith said that officials in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were drawing up plans to cut the £10 million provided for counselling services to prevent family breakdown.
David Cameron promised in a speech in January last year to double the budget for relationship support, which would have taken spending from £7.5 million to £15 million a year.
Mr Duncan Smith wrote on the ConservativeHome website yesterday that this would be “a retrograde step” that would exacerbate family breakdown.
“Without this funding, innumerable families and couples will no longer be able to access marriage and relationship support, particularly those on low incomes and vulnerable groups who often need it the most,” he wrote.
An ally of Mr Duncan Smith said the move came from officials within the department rather than David Gauke, the secretary of state, or the Treasury, and that the entire budget for relationship counselling was earmarked for removal. Chris Sherwood, chief executive of Relate, said: “We are aware that this is an important time in the department’ decision-making process and we urge them to continue to fund relationship support, counselling, information and education.
“Relate delivers vital relationship support including counselling, information and education. Last year we helped more than 1.85m people.”
The DWP refused to comment. A government spokesman said: “Mounting evidence shows the damaging effect parental conflict has on children, which is why we remain committed to supporting parents, whether separated or not, to work together.”