Does your family fit the Tories outdated agenda?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

  • News Labour MP sent anti-semitic messages

    Labour MP sent anti-semitic messages

    The Jewish Chronicle have reported that Luciana Berger MP and Louise Ellman MP have been subjected to anti-semitic tweets. Following the conviction of Garron Helm, who sent anti-semitic messages to Berger on Twitter – last night she faced further verbal online abuse. Messages sent to Berger included one that used the ‘judge’ – which in German means Jew. Another read “Only two places for Jews. The desert or in hell with their father the devil. #ExpelLucianaBerger” Berger has not responded to these […]

    Read more →
  • News George Osborne doesn’t accept living standards are falling

    George Osborne doesn’t accept living standards are falling

    Here’s one for the “what was he thinking?” files. George Osborne was interviewed by ITV news about today’s growth figures, yet when Economics Editor Richard Edgar noted that living standards are falling as wages have fallen behind inflation, the Chancellor disagreed with that fact, saying “I don’t accept that.” Here’s Elgar’s tweet: Living standards have fallen since 2010. So why won’t the Chancellor accept that? Is it because it punches a hole in his narrative about the British economy…?

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe Farage has chosen to cosy up with the sort of political party that makes most of us feel sick

    Farage has chosen to cosy up with the sort of political party that makes most of us feel sick

    Why do so many of us go canvassing and door-knocking in the rain? Or give up evenings and weekends for the Labour Party when we could be anywhere else. There’s always a candidate to support or a campaign to be won. But ultimately it’s about more than that – it’s about fighting for our values. We all get into politics to argue for what we think is right and to change our world bit by bit, day by day for […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland What should Scottish Labour do?

    What should Scottish Labour do?

    There is much talk in the Scottish media about a crisis in Scottish Labour. Some of it is of course froth (is the Scottish Daily Mail where we would seek advice in our best interest?). But some of it is substantial – based on the post-poll evidence, anything between 30-40% of Labour voters voted Yes in the referendum. The angst is also heightened by the surge in SNP membership to nearly 80,000, making them the third largest political party in […]

    Read more →
  • Comment For our immigration policy, Labour should forget the Tories and look to Europe

    For our immigration policy, Labour should forget the Tories and look to Europe

    Three quarters want fewer foreigners. Disillusioned voters have flocked to the radical right. The Government and Commission are at war over the free movement of labour. An EU exit is a real possibility. In case you haven’t noticed, immigration is back on the agenda. And that means Labour, to stand a chance of winning in May, must present credible immigration policies to voters over the next seven months – not an easy task considering research has shown immigration may have […]

    Read more →