A woman who grew up in a fatherless family on an inner city council estate has blasted Nick Clegg’s failure to support marriage tax breaks.
Journalist Selina Gray said in the Daily Mail that the deputy prime minister would change his mind if he visited her local neighbourhood for the day.
She said he would “witness the devastating effect on people of a society that does not value marriage”.
A recent announcement from Downing Street that a tax break for married couples will be published in the Autumn was met with criticism from Mr Clegg, who said it was unfair on people who choose not to marry.
But Selina Gray said he would change his mind if he visited the estate on which she grew up, and “would learn that the idea of a tax-break for married couples is something that benefits all of us by sending a message that society values the family and the commitment, stability and self-sacrifice that goes with it”.
Last month, The Centre for Social Justice, an independent think-tank, released a report which showed that at least one million children are growing up without a father in the UK, and that the number of lone-parent families is increasing by 20,000 every year.
In Riverside in Liverpool and Ladywood in Birmingham, more than 70 per cent of households with dependent children are headed by lone parents.
Selina Gray said: “Children who grow up in these places rarely come across a male role model.”
“Despite a wealth of evidence that absent fathers put children at a disadvantage, I find it deeply depressing that the political class is terrified of taking any action to shore up family life.”
She said the proposed marriage tax allowance, worth £150 a year, where one spouse stays at home, would be “a small compensation for the way that our tax system penalises married couples and would be a long-overdue recognition of those parents who bring commitment to bringing up children together”.
She said “a tax system that recognises the social value of marriage would actually save the country a fortune through re-establishing the role of fatherhood in family life”.
The annual cost of family breakdown has been estimated to be £46 billion by The Centre for Social Justice.
Selina Gray said: “Politicians must show some courage and introduce measures for them to promote family life.
“A welfare system that incentivises single-motherhood must be reformed.”
“Whatever Mr Clegg may say, the truth is that the absence of fathers has had disastrous consequences for our society.”