Lib Dems attack Tories’ tax-war on widows, working couples and jilted wives

by Stephen Tall on April 10, 2010

A tax-break for married couples, is how the Tories are trying to spin it. The reality could scarcely be different – here are the groups of people the Tories are now officially classifying as undeserving:

  • Two married teachers bringing up a child.
  • A co-habiting couple who have lived together for years but not married.
  • People whose partners have abandoned them and their children.
  • A widow whose husband has died in Afghanistan.

But perhaps I’m being unfair … after all the Tories will reward some people at the expense of those clearly undeserving groups:

  • Those happily married for 50 years.
  • Over a million people in Britain who have separated but are still legally married.
  • Somebody who abandons their partner and children and then remarries.

The Tories’ feeble defence of their Edwardian tax-war on groups in society they regard as unworthy is that it their £150 a year will help solve the much-talked about ‘Broken Britain’ – so what will the Tory policy do for those living in poverty?

  • Less than one in seven of the children living in poverty in the UK will see any benefit whether their parents marry or not. Just 14% of children in poverty live in coupled families where just one parent works full time.
  • It will be no help to the 232,000 children living in poverty with one parent who juggles work with caring for them.
  • It will be of no help to the 29,000 children who live in poverty with both parents who both work full time.

Nick Clegg delivered the perfect liberal response:

The proposal from the Conservatives for tax breaks for marriage are patronising drivel that belong in the Edwardian age. David Cameron clearly has no idea about modern life. Every family is different, and instead of creating rigid rules or special policies that help some families but not others, we need a new approach from government: one that is flexible and doesn’t dictate to families how they should live.”

(Hat-tip for the Tory poster: Alex Wilcock via