Balls and Clegg rubbish Tory marriage tax break

The Conservative Party’s plans to recognise marriage within the tax system have been attacked by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats ahead of the upcoming General Election.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has branded the Conservatives’ proposed tax reforms as ‘social engineering’.

And Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, described the reforms as a “bribe”.

However, David Cameron has defended his promotion of the family.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday Mr Cameron said: “A stable home is the best start a child can get. That’s why we’ll back commitment by recognising marriage in the tax system – and we’ll also end the couple penalty in the tax credits system which, unbelievably, encourages parents to live apart”.

His comments were echoed by Philip Hammond, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who said: “Our approach is evidence-based: studies prove beyond doubt that children do better when their parents are together – and parents of young children are nearly four times more likely to stay together if they are married.

“Britain is alone among the major developed economies in not recognising marriage in the tax system.”

The current tax system penalises married couples meaning that many would be financially better off if they were to split up.

Mr Cameron has pledged to recognise marriage within the tax system during the next Parliament if the Conservatives are elected. The plans would also apply to same-sex civil partnerships.

However David Willetts, the shadow minister responsible for family policy, has confirmed that the tax reforms will not form part of the Conservatives’ initial budget if they win the General Election, as they “simply don’t have the resources”.

The three main political parties remain divided over their approach to family policy.

The Liberal Democrats propose allowing mothers and fathers to share 19 months of parental leave as a way of encouraging fathers to get involved in their children’s development.

The Labour Party is due to release a Green Paper this week which will unveil measures to help families “of all shapes and sizes”.

The Government will also publish a “New Dad’s Guide” encouraging fathers to get more involved with their children.

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