The Telegraph reports that the Relationships Alliance, which is to launch in the House of Commons, warns that the ‘disintegration of romantic, social and family relationships costs the average taxpayer around £1,500 a year’. Apparently this amounts to £50 billion a year.
The story is of course familiar, even if the figures involved are new. Broken relationships can cause immense social and economic damage to the wider community. The Relationships Alliance, which is a union of charities, actions groups, politicians and individuals, has come into being to convince the government to adopt a national strategy to counter these costly ills. Relationships do break down, and some relationships should be dissolved. The question is how to limit the wider impact of their collapse. David Cameron’s central policy plank in this arena, the marriage tax allowance, doesn’t quite address that question.
Perhaps the Relationships Alliance will push the Conservatives to make further pledges in support of relationships. The tactical possibilities of a socially conservative approach are two-fold: it might check the drift of voters to UKIP, and it could attract traditionally-minded people from minority communities. However, I suspect that legalising gay marriage, which Philip Hammond described as ‘damaging’ over the weekend, may have driven those people away from the Tories. On the other hand, it might be time to redefine social conservatism to take account of homosexual unions as well as the nuclear family.