Parental conflict initiative to be trialled in 30 areas

Joe Lepper
Friday, April 27, 2018

A £39m programme aimed at reducing conflict between parents in disadvantaged families is to be trialled in 30 council areas, the government has confirmed.

The reducing parental conflict programme was first proposed in a Department for Work and Pensions policy document on improving support for unemployed families in April 2017.

This stated that better support is needed for low income couples in conflict as this can damage children's upbringing and life chances. The DWP also said that existing parenting courses have limited impact if the relationship between parents is poor.

In answer to a request for an update on the programme from Conservative MP Andrew Selous, work and pensions minister Kit Malthouse confirmed that 30 councils will be trialling the programme.

He has also pledged to make training and guidance on tackling parental conflict available to all local areas.

"Local authorities, and the partners they work with, are best placed to understand what support the families in their area need," said Malthouse.

"DWP will be working with 30 local authorities to help build our understanding of how to do this well, through providing face-to-face support for disadvantaged (including low income and workless) families experiencing conflict.

"Local authorities will be responsible for identifying families experiencing damaging parental conflict and referring them to appropriate interventions, making sure that the parents who need help are offered support.

"To help local areas do this, we will make training and guidance for frontline practitioners and relationship support professionals available in all local areas in England.

"We will support managers and commissioners to understand why and how to address parental conflict; support frontline staff to recognise parental conflict; and offer appropriate advice to make sure that they are able to refer parents to appropriate services."

The reducing parental conflict programme is to be backed by £39m in funding up to 2021, according to a presentation by DWP deputy director of family policy Julia Gault at a Local Government Association event in January.

This also revealed that training is to be available in August 2018 and an online "family resource tool" has been produced to show how child development can be influenced by a multiple challenges.

According to the DWP, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of children in workless families live with parents who report having a distressed relationship. This is three times as prevelant as in families where both parents are working.

Just under a third (32 per cent) of children in separated families never see their non-resident parent.

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