Does your family fit the Tories outdated agenda?

1st July, 2013 11:30 am

After threats of backbench rebellion, government assurances, and further threats, David Cameron has finally succumbed to his backbenchers and promised them a marriage tax allowance “soon”. This demonstrates the worrying increase in power the so-called “Tea Party Tories” have over the leadership: only two years ago, Edward Leigh proposed an amendment to introduce the marriage tax allowance which was defeated overwhelmingly by 473 to 23. Now, despite the Chancellor and PM’s reservations, the weight of the rebellion is enough to force the PM’s hand. The “nasty party” is alive and well and its backwards looking social conservatism is increasing its grip on the leadership.

The infighting exposes the splits within the Conservative Party and undoubtedly destabilises David Cameron. But a marriage tax allowance is more than a sop to the right. It is a pernicious policy, and a waste of scarce public money. We should fight its reintroduction.

The marriage tax allowance proposed by Tim Loughton MP this week would see money specifically targeted at a minority of married couples where one person goes out to work whilst one stays at home. Only a third of married couples would be eligible. Only 35% of those who would receive it have children, and a paltry 17% have children under five. Single parent families, widows or widowers, couples where both need or choose to go to work, and couples who simply choose not to get married, would all miss out.  As Yvette Cooper has shown, the government’s cuts to benefits and tax credits have already hit women three times harder than men – handing a tax break to families in this way means yet more money in the pockets of men.

Families are already paying too high a price for the Conservatives’ economic failure. One million families have lost child benefit this year. Lone parent families are losing out more than any other family group. Four hundred SureStart centres have closed since the General Election. Low paid new mums will lose £1,300 during pregnancy and their baby’s first year from cuts to pregnancy support, tax credits and real terms cuts to maternity pay. Food poverty is increasing. Just last week the Tory-led coalition slashed budgets by £11.5 billion, which will impact services affecting families up and down the country. In this context, it is nothing less than an insult to struggling families of all shapes and sizes  that the Conservatives are prepared to find at least £500 million to prioritise “sending a signal” about marriage.

As the grassroots campaign Don’t Judge My Family says, the government has no right to use the tax system to promote its old fashioned view of how modern families should live. David Cameron promised that his government would be the “most family friendly ever”. But it’s clear that only applies if your family fits his narrow, privileged and backward looking view of what a family should look like.

Kate Green is MP for Stretford and Urmston, and  Labour spokesperson for Equalities.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • JohnPReid

    Single parents get benefits, as do those who are with children in two parent families, so those who are married with no kids still fit into this new classification, have you forgot Gay marriage

  • Monkey_Bach

    How stupid to arbitrarily reward certain couples with a tax break based on whether or not they have undergone approved religious or civil ceremonies. Absolutely bonkers. Eeek.

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    I don’t understand this antagonism to traditional families, granted this tax break isn’t well designed but the principle of supporting two parent families, supporting stable relationships is sound.

    We know that rates of poverty vary by family type; that child poverty rates for single parent families are twice that of two parent families. We have a welfare system there to step in to meet the cost of family breakdown, stepping in to provide income support as a form of substitute partner.

    Given the cost of family breakdown both social and financial I think money spent in supporting two-parent families is money well invested.

  • Angela Sullivan

    Married women have for a very long time been shafted by the UK tax and benefit system which presumes (I think) that their home-making skills enable them to survive on less money than any other type of adult. More recently there has been a focus on “working” women and helping them with childcare costs. If “working” women are earning decent wages why do they need so much more financial help than stay-at-home housewives who earn less than a dollar a day?

  • excellent blog, j’adore cette petite liste.

Latest

  • Comment Featured “The kind of revolution I’ll deliver” – Owen Smith’s speech on industry

    “The kind of revolution I’ll deliver” – Owen Smith’s speech on industry

    Here is the full text of Owen Smith’s speech at the Knowledge Transfer Centre Advanced Manufacturing Park on the site of the old Orgreave coking works today: This place is a symbol of what we can do at our best. How Labour can build a fairer, more prosperous and contented country. But, let me be clear, under the Tories, we have become an unhappy country. A frustrated, divided and profoundly unequal country. Where individuals and whole communities feel deeply that life […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn: Owen Smith is copying my industrial policies

    Corbyn: Owen Smith is copying my industrial policies

    Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign has accused rival Owen Smith of lifting policies from the Labour leader. The Corbyn campaigners said Smith’s policies on equality, re-industrialisation, workers’ rights and development in the north of England have been announced by the leader or John McDonnell over recent months. Smith, the leadership challenger, today announced a set of policies designed to tackle economic inequality, saying neither Corbyn nor Tony Blair was sufficiently radical. Smith promised to introduce a Ministry of Labour, increase the top rate […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Millions of Labour supporters would pick May over Corbyn as PM

    Millions of Labour supporters would pick May over Corbyn as PM

    Nearly three million Labour voters prefer Theresa May to Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, according to a new poll. Some 29 per cent of Labour’s 9.3 million voters – around 2.7 million people – would pick the Tory over the veteran left-winger, according to a Times/YouGov poll publishes today. The results come only a day after a separate ICM poll showed the Tories had opened up a 16 point lead over Labour. The two surveys underline the impact of Labour’s internal […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Aides to Corbyn and McDonnell cleared over access to Seema Malhotra’s office

    Aides to Corbyn and McDonnell cleared over access to Seema Malhotra’s office

    Aides to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been cleared of breaking Commons rules when entering the office of former shadow Cabinet minister Seema Malhotra. John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, told Malhotra there was “nothing” in her complaint which added up to a breach of parliamentary privilege. Malhotra had claimed at the weekend that staff working for the leadership had made an “unauthorised” entry into her office – prompting another internal row as the former shadow Chief Secretary […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Owen Smith heads to Orgreave with pledge to appoint minister for workers

    Owen Smith heads to Orgreave with pledge to appoint minister for workers

    Owen Smith will today pledge to introduce a Cabinet-level minister for labour to tackle inequality. The leadership challenger will continue his appeal to traditional Labour values with a commitment to introduce a Secretary of State for Labour. His rival, Jeremy Corbyn, has been a longstanding critic of Britain’s sharp divides in wealth while Theresa May drew comparisons with Ed Miliband when, in her first speech as prime minister, she focused on inequality. Today Smith will use a speech at the former […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit