The Chief Rabbi says the Government should “certainly” recognise marriage in the tax system, as it has currently not done enough to support the institution.
Lord Sacks says the Government has an interest in marriage because of the massive cost of family breakdown.
He made the comments in a newspaper article where he also warned of a “deep-down hollowing out” of society.
Asked whether the Government had done enough in the area of marriage, Lord Sacks said: “I don’t think the Government has done enough at all”, while adding he does not take a party political position.
He commented: “The state has an interest in marriage because the cost of family breakdown and non-marriage, the last time I looked at it, was estimated at £9 billion a year.”
He continued that the Government “should certainly recognise marriage in the tax system, it should certainly give more support to mothers who stay at home, or for childcare provision”.
Lord Sacks, who is leaving the job of Chief Rabbi at the end of the month, noted: “I don’t believe in getting involved in the details, but the principle is pretty clear”.
His comments were welcomed by a national newspaper, with the Daily Mail saying it “wholeheartedly agrees” that “the Government needs to do much more to support the traditional family, and provide help rather than jibes about ‘lifestyle choices’ to stay-at-home mothers”.
And the Centre for Social Justice think-tank commented: “The British public backs marriage – it’s time our politicians did too”.
Later in the interview the Chief Rabbi remarked on a “breakdown of faith” in recent decades.
He explained: “A very individualistic self-centred society doesn’t really have space for God.
“It doesn’t really have space for a covenantal commitment to marriage and these things are very interlinked, so I think society has become, deep down, more secular.
“It’s not just on the surface — do you believe God exists … there’s been a deep-down hollowing out I must say.”
Earlier this year the Anglican Bishop of Exeter said the Government was failing to follow up its “rhetoric” about supporting family life with “substance”.
And earlier this month Chancellor George Osborne faced criticism over his plan for childcare vouchers which left out stay-at-home mothers.
Critics said the proposals were “deeply insulting” to parents who stay at home, and were part of a pattern of financial punishment for them.