Ed Balls fired a shot back at the Tories’ new plans for marriage incentives in an interview with Sky News this morning.
David Cameron had told the Daily Mail that the Tories will reward married couples through the tax system. He added that Labour has a “pathological inability to recognise that marriage is a good thing…Ed Balls seems to see marriage as irrelevant.”
“What David Cameron and the Daily Mail are saying today is total and utter nonsense. I’m a member of the first-ever married couple in the Cabinet. I’m married; I think marriage is a really important institution; it’s very important for our children. What I’m not willing to do is say to all the many different types of families all round the country watching your programme that they are second class if they’re not married. That’s what David Cameron’s saying. He’s saying there would only be tax help if you’re married, there wouldn’t be help if you are divorced or you left your partner because of violence, or you’re cohabiting with another partner. What we know is the most important thing for children is yes, marriage is great, but actually, married or not, strong, stable relationships where adults respect each other and look after their children, that’s the important thing.”
The Secretary of State for children, schools and families continued:
“We at the moment have zero rating for children’s clothes and children’s food. Would it be fair to say you only get zero rating for VAT – no VAT on children’s food – if you’re married, and if you’re not married you pay VAT? That would be an absurd thing to do, but that’s what David Cameron is really proposing. He says he’ll give more tax help for some families if they’re married, and actually most of it goes to the richest families and all the other families will get no help from the Conservatives. That seems to me to be really outdated and old-fashioned. There are lots of different types of families…what I’m not going to do is say there’s only one type of family which is good, that’s a married family, and everybody else is second class. That’s what the Daily Mail is saying today and I just think that they are completely out of touch with the reality of modern lives.”
As Left Foot Forward have shown, David Cameron’s marriage policy is out of touch with reality, and at odds with social trends. Will Straw also points out that the Tory policy would cost £4.9 billion and give thirteen times the benefit to the highest earners as to people on lower incomes.