Ecorys manages Government fund reducing parental conflict

24 April 2019 4 min. read
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Professional services firm Ecorys has been tasked with overseeing the management of a £2.7 million fund to increase support for disadvantaged families. The consultancy will work with charity Family Lives to assess applications for funding from projects on and offline which will support families at risk of parental conflict.

As defined by the UK Government, parental conflict can range from a lack of warmth and emotional distance, right through to verbal abuse. If children are exposed to this sort of distress over longer periods of time, their emotional and social development can be significantly affected. It may stop children from doing as well at school or even impact their career chances in later life – and this serves as an added handicap to the country’s most disadvantaged children, as those most at risk are those with parents who are out of work, on low incomes, or are themselves struggling with physical and mental health conditions.

In order to combat this vicious cycle, a new fund has been announced by the Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Justin Tomlinson. The Reducing Parental Conflict Challenge Fund is part of a wider programme which encourages councils across England to integrate approaches addressing parental conflict into their local services for families.

Ecorys manages Government fund reducing parental conflict

Tomlinson said of the initiative, “Conflict between parents can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on children, and it’s often caused by external stresses. We want families experiencing problems to have easier access to help… This innovative fund will develop solutions for parents to repair their relationships, resolve any conflict and provide a safer environment for their children to grow up.”

The multi-million pound fund will consist of two separate strands. £1.1 million of funding will be earmarked for projects to support families at a greater risk of parental conflict, working to help families deal with complex issues including debt trouble, divorce and mental health issues. A further £1.6 million will go to digital support, which will help parents find beneficial resources online.

Eligible bidders could include local authorities, digital organisations, organisations from the public and private sector, voluntary and community organisations, and social enterprises. Grant participants in both categories will be asked to develop creative solutions which target digital help at parents with low digital skills and who live in low income and workless households.

The applicants will be assessed by Family Lives and consulting firm Ecorys UK. Family Lives is a charity with over three decades of experience helping parents to deal with the changes that are a constant part of family life. They will review applications for funding and oversee the delivery of the final projects, taking place between April 2019 and March 2020. Meanwhile, Ecorys is one of the oldest economic research and consulting companies in Europe. Its history dates back to 1929, when a group of businessmen from Rotterdam established the Foundation NEI: The Netherlands Economic Institute.

In the UK, Ecorys has worked on a number of high-profile governmental projects of late. Last year, the firm was recruited by the UK Government to evaluate Regional Adoption Agencies in England. The firm subsequently collaborated with the University of Bristol to examine the effectiveness of the new scheme – aimed at helping children find new, supportive homes more quickly – on behalf of the Department for Education.

Elsewhere, Ecorys was criticised for its management of another Government fund in 2018. Ecorys was placed in control of a £5 million pot aimed at supporting women’s rights groups during the 100th anniversary of female suffrage in Britain. However, a delayed and shortened submissions period for the fund meant that less than 5% of available funds were allocated to grassroots groups, leading Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler, to state “the Government has outsourced yet another contract that has fallen woefully short of achieving its intended purpose.”