The Independent View: Don’t judge my family, David Cameron!

dont judge my familyThe Prime Minister has confirmed his intention to introduce a tax break for married couples before the end of this parliament. The tax break would be worth about £150 a year and would go to around a third of married couples: only those where one plays the role of breadwinner and the other is a homemaker.

Let’s be clear – this policy is not about supporting children: only 35% of the families who would gain from the policy have children, and only 17% have children under 5. And of course, it wouldn’t help the 1 in 4 kids who grow up in a single parent household. Nor is about helping the poorest: workless families and families where both parents are working to make ends meet would all miss out.

No, this policy is specifically about “sending a message” about how we should live our lives: that marriage is best. A tax break to promote this 1950s family model has been met with outrage and incredulity. Government has absolutely no right to judge our families! We agree with Nick Clegg when he has repeatedly criticised the idea, saying it is a “throwback to the Edwardian era” and adding: “Miriam and I got married for love, not for three quid a week. It’s patronising drivel.”

The Coalition Agreement stipulates that Liberal Democrat MPs can abstain on the vote to introduce the measure. But Don’t Judge My Family, the grassroots campaign against the marriage tax allowance, knows that introducing a tax break to incentivise one kind of family model over others is completely counter to what Liberal Democrats believe in, as Caron Lindsay argued here earlier this week. We’ll be urging Lib Dems to vote against it, and hope you’ll help us.

David Cameron wants to “send a signal” that marriage is better than any other type of relationship. Sign up here to send a signal back: don’t judge my family!

* Julianne Marriott is Campaign Director of Don’t Judge My Family.

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8 Comments

  • Malcolm Todd 6th May '13 - 4:35pm

    “Does anyone in Cameron’s Nudge Unit really think that this will change people’s attitudes, let alone behaviour?”

    Yes — at least, I presume so: they think it will change backbench Tory MPs’ attitudes to Cameron … well, even a Tory can dream, I suppose.

  • If Cameron wants to “send a message”, can’t he just write a letter?

    Its good enough for the queen, when she wants to encourage people to live to 100. Why not for our pompous PM?

  • In case people missed it, 1/3 of married couples constitutes a large body of voters. I am not sure why people here seem to favour ignoring them particularly after the recent policies that have hit these couples in many cases.

    Look at the government’s recent policies:
    1) the second part of the Child Trust Voucher (payable to the CHILD’s trust fund at age 7) was scrapped – ouch, that just hit the kids,
    2) saving limits for the CTF/Junior ISA were increased instead – good but how many couples can afford to avail of that extra increased limit?
    3) Benefit for the child – child benefit – gets reduced above 50K income of either parent and stopped completely after 60K. A family where both parents work though can have a combined family income of twice that amount and their children will still get child benefit – clearly, the children of single 50K income families are “rich” and being hit hard whereas the children of double income 100K families are “poor” and are protected. Ouch.
    4) On the other hand though, there are increased tax credits for Child Care which is payable, according to HMRC, where either: a) both parents work or b) one parent does and earns more than 150K. Most important though is there is no upper income limit either singly or jointly for this tax credit – a couple could be earning a million a year and they still qualify for it, contrast that with the Child Benefit situation. There is clearly a “value judgment” at play in this decision since a “free market” approach wouldn’t have any tax credit and a “welfare” approach would have a upper income limit cap. But, of course, the children of single income families don’t get any comparable tax break, do they? Ouch.

    All in all, these policies cumulatively give the distinct impression that far from it being a case of “Don’t judge my family” , families are being judged and single income families are being judged harshly – they must fall into the category of “dole scroungers” these days based on how they are being singled out.

    Those families which are “throwbacks to the Edwardian Era” are still out there and hitting their kids in particular again and again gives the parents of such families solid reason to bear a grudge come voting time. Cameroon has moved to defuse that. Nick should consider doing so too – those “Edwardian Era throwback” families vote Lib Dem too.

  • Is it an incentive? or is it an investment?

    The “Don’t Judge My Family” website makes it very clear who the primary beneficiaries will be of this specific measure, then jumps up and down because the monies aren’t going to various other groups, but totally fails to see the alternative conclusion to their analysis, namely the monies can be seen as an investment primarily in a particular group that play a major part in the development of our future wealth creators .

    To me whilst the current measure doesn’t go nearly far enough, however like the civil partnership, it recognises the value that married couples bring to society and hence is a beginning which can be built on. I know several people who if they could fully transfer their personal allowance to their partner would drop out of employment and devote their energies to the third-sector ie. give back to society.

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