Tories to give tax breaks to married couples

// 17 March 2007

David Cameron has promised that money raised from taxing air travel will be used to introduce tax breaks for married couples, according to a report in The Independent.

He hopes to initiate these tax schemes as a way of not only championing marriage, and the concept of the nuclear family, but also as a means of encouraging people to consider more environmentally friendly forms of travel. Cameron believes that these are two issues that need to be addressed in order to benefit British society.

Speaking at a Tory conference Cameron promised that:

“Any green taxes introduced by the next Conservative government will be replacement taxes, not new taxes. Any rises in green taxation will be compensated by reductions elsewhere – for example in taxation on families. We want to use the tax system to encourage greener behaviour, not to bleed taxpayers dry.”

Prior to this Cameron had remarked in an interview with the BBC that it would be a way of “taxing the bad and rewarding the good,” but what does this statement infer? Does attempting to tackle environmental issues at the same time as the spiralling divorce rate make Cameron some sort of modern day Robin Hood type figure? Or rather is he suggesting something that unfairly discriminates those who terminate their marriages, be that through no fault of their own?

OK, the recent UNICEF report did reveal that British children are the unhappiest in Europe, but is heralding the idea of the perfect, ‘unbroken’ family really going to solve this problem, or rather paint a shiny white-picket-fence and dog-sleeping-on-the-porch veneer over the problem?

What about married relationships characterised by physical and emotional abuse? Surely in such instances it would be more beneficial for the children involved for the parents to separate? Friends of mine who lived hostile environments during early childhood have remarked how much happier they were following their parents divorce, and so is it not possible for children to grow up happy and feeling loved in a family that does not fit the conventional 2-point-4 children template? I think that it is.

Also, what about homosexual couples in long-term relationships and civil partnerships? They are not likely to benefit under the proposed tax scheme, even though children being brought up in gay households can be and are equally as happy as those in heterosexual households.

Maybe Cameron’s scheme will work, but personally I am sceptical, and think that more support given to children from broken homes in school, and to parents experiencing marriage problems, would be more effective in the long-term than stigmatising the idea of the ‘broken’ home and single-parent families.

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