That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Love and money

And, the social engineering begins.

For all David Cameron’s liberal maquillage, the UK’s governing party (despite its coalition partner) are forging ahead with a series of tax carrots and sticks that appear principally designed to encourage the development of very conservative families indeed: there’s been no better time to be part of a married, single-income family household since the 1950s.

The tax initiatives are simple. Remove the child tax credit for parents who earn over £44,000 per year. That’s axing a benefit for individuals, not for households: so a single-income household where the breadwinner takes £45,000/annum will lose the child tax credit, while dual-income households on, say, £80,000 will be able to retain it.

Critics immediately pointed out that this is a bit unfair, and will push both parents into work. The government claims it’s just too complimicated to work out dual-income household tax regimes.

Sadly, duh, that isn’t the real answer. Enter the tax break for married couples. Cutting the child tax credit is designed to appear like a Robin Hoodish act, removing social support for high earners to allow for greater flexibility to spend on the vulnerable. But the marriage tax break betrays another dimension – if you are part of a single-income parenting couple, then your choice for tax relief is to 1) get both parents into work, or 2) get married.

Instead of “benefit skivers” of a Labour hue, will we now have “marriage skivers,” entering into loveless matrimony as the preferred option against daycare costs?

I have a hard time imagining the married couple whose love is lost, who contribute no moral or emotional support to each other, but stay married for the sake of the tax credit. What message are the Conservatives trying to send? Basically, that straight marriages are literally worth more than common law relationships, than single-parent households, and than gay partnerships?

Doubtless this is part of their worldview, but I think the most deliberate message the Tories are giving is “stay-at-home wife-mums are preferable to single mums, and are preferable to working wife-mums putting the kids into daycare.” No surprise that’s a Tory logic. But the tax approach could be considered quaint, if only it weren’t so dangerously ideological and poorly-thought through.

Whether their plan contributes to a statistical decline in divorce rates and a rise in new weddings is fairly irrelevant to any new, positive indicators of stable, supportive working families.

Where will Clegg stand on this?


Filed under: Politics, UK, , , ,


October 2010
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