The Liberal Democrats have been criticised by the Coalition 4 Marriage who claim that our manifesto commitment to scrap the Marriage Tax Allowance (MTA) suggests that the Party does not support marriage. I completely disagree with their conclusion.
I believe that the Liberal Democrats do appreciate the value that stable relationships bring to society and recognise that marriage is a vital part of the glue that helps keep people together.
The Marriage Tax Allowance was introduced by the Conservatives, it allows a person who doesn’t work to transfer 10% of their personal tax allowance to their employed spouse. Can this really be described as ‘supporting marriage’? Does anyone get married or stay married so one partner can pay £250 a year less in tax? Indeed, should the government be using the tax system to support marriage? I don’t think so.
The Marriage Tax Allowance, only benefits one section of married couples – those in which only one spouse works. While it does give an additional £4.80 per week to couples where one partner has chosen to stay at home to take on caring responsibilities such as stay at home parents, it is equally paid to those earning under £50,000 who can afford to live on one salary and that does not seem to be a good use of government money to me. It also ignores all others, even if they are in a stable long term relationship just because they don’t have that piece of paper.
We know that lack of money is one of the biggest stresses in relationships so our manifesto commitments include:
- Ending the two child limit and the benefits cap.
- Cutting the wait for Universal Credit claimants from 5 weeks to 5 days.
- Making work pay by increasing work allowances and introducing a second earner work allowance.
- Radically overhaul the Bereavement Allowance, slashed by the Conservatives, so that widows and widowers receive far more support
- Aim to end fuel poverty by 2025 by providing free energy retrofits for low-income homes as part of our emergency programme to reduce energy consumption from all the UK’s buildings.
In short, I believe the MTA, is a badly targeted token amount and I am pleased that the Party are determined to offer better targeted support to parents who are doing the vital job of bringing up the next generation.
LDCF Interim Director
Member of Federal Policy Committee