Does your family fit the Tories outdated agenda?

July 1, 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.

  • 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?

  • http://www.muondo.org muondo

    excellent blog, j’adore cette petite liste.

Latest

  • Comment The truth behind TTIP

    The truth behind TTIP

    John Healey MP recently argued the case for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on LabourList, saying that the left should lead the fight for a fair deal. This was in part a response to the unanimous vote at TUC Congress pledging to oppose TTIP and other ‘free trade’ treaties such as CETA, the Canadian version of TTIP and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Trade unions and many others in civil society are highly sceptical of the claims John […]

    Read more →
  • Featured The last thing England needs is an English Parliament

    The last thing England needs is an English Parliament

    Whatever happens on Thursday, the status quo in British politics has gone. Whether devo-max or divorce, the Scottish people will chart a new course for themselves. Those of us in the rest of the UK cannot be caught on the hop – nor can we allow ourselves to replicate the mistakes that have brought the Union so close to collapse. The call for an English parliament will be loud, amplified by those in the media who want to enshrine the […]

    Read more →
  • News Weekly survey: Referendum result, Miliband’s message and winning in cities

    Weekly survey: Referendum result, Miliband’s message and winning in cities

    Scotland goes to the polls this week in a vote that will determine the future of the UK. While most polls give the Labour-supported No campaign the lead, it is still too close to give either side a definite win yet. But who do you think will win? Have Better Together convinced people already? Did Yes peak too soon? Or will the independence campaign make a late surge? We’ll reveal what LabourList readers think the result will be when polls […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Scotland The nationalists set out to divide the Union but all they’ve done is divide Scotland

    The nationalists set out to divide the Union but all they’ve done is divide Scotland

    By the end of this week I could be deemed a foreigner in my own country.  In fact, I’ve just been called one, in my own country, by a nationalist, because I dared stand in a street handing out leaflets for the ‘No’ campaign. This pains me more than words can describe. I’m Scottish, born and raised in North Ayrshire. Anyone who knows me knows I am a passionate Scot. I celebrate Burns night every year.  I play the fiddle, […]

    Read more →
  • News Poll suggests a drop in Labour’s poll lead if Scotland leaves Union

    Poll suggests a drop in Labour’s poll lead if Scotland leaves Union

    A survey carried out by polling company Survation has shown Labour on top with 35% of people saying they’d vote Labour in the general election, in comparison to 31% who’d opt for the Tories. However, since Survation’s last polling (conducted on 29th June) this is a 1 point drop for Labour (who were previously on 36%), while the Conservatives have made up ground, gaining 4 points from their 27% earlier in the year. Meanwhile, things aren’t looking so good for […]

    Read more →