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Q: If we reward marriages without also punishing divorces, isn't it likely that *more* people will enter a marriage without taking it seriously - i.e. getting married purely for the tax advantages - and we might end up with a *higher* divorce rate down the line?

What I think we need to emphasise from the excellent report is not that we want everybody to get married, but that those who want to have children to be married. Going on from which, any tax benefits should be aimed at married couples with children, not married couples without children. A transferable tax allowance would be a start for such couples

Surely there must be a danger here that this approach would equate to exactly the same one taken during the Blairist/New Labour era - that being 'positive' discrimination, but just in a different direction?

Like it or not, any kind of discrimination is exactly that and there will always be winners and losers.

IDS is right that there is a lot to be said for the marriage-based family. However, there are issues at work here which go way beyond the fix which will be created by giving or encouraging apparent permanence to the family environment through marriage.

There are some weird comments - always about marriage but never about the £1 billion a year written off on Tax Credits or the hundres of pounds a week it costs to keep child-rich households funded by the taxpayer when the father does a flit and leaves the rest of us to pay for his children.

I do not know why Adam Tugwell and Toryjim do not bother how much it costs




Frankly I don't want to pay for this so let's agree to restrict benefit to two children only - after the second child NO support from the benefit system at all.

Almost half the black children in Britain are being raised by single parents, new Government figures reveal.

A quarter of all youngsters live in one-parent families – treble the proportion in 1972, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The biggest percentage of lone-parent households is among black ethnic groups. Forty-eight per cent of black Caribbean families have one parent, as do 36 per cent of black African households.


One in three households across Britain depends on state benefits for at least half its income, according to the report.

Civitas says the figure is far higher for single-parent homes, with 61% relying on state support compared with 9% of two-parent households.

I have just completed the survey but I am worried about the interpretation of my answers.

For example, I disagree that more public funding should be switched to small charities who have already raised money from their local communities. But there are two possibilities for disagreeing.

The first is that I think larger charities are more efficient and better run than smaller charities and therefore public funds should not be switched.

The second possibility is that I don't believe in the public funding of charities per se and therefore disagree with the switching of funds to smaller charities.

So I am not agreeing with the opposite of the statement to which I have disagreed...if you see what I mean!

If I can reserve judgement on one or two ideas, like the alcohol tax, on the whole I think this was a spectacularly good piece of work.

I saw David Laws (the sole LibDem in the poverty debate) welcome it wholeheartedly. It got the party great press and has rattled Labour. Why? Because it is deep, substantive and profound.

If it has the beneficial side-effect of making "Breakdown Britain" "Breakthrough Britain" the slogan instead of "social responsibility" then that, too, is to be welcomed.

Overall an excellent report ( there will always be parts someone doesn't agree with) a report put together by speaking with ALL the different sectors of society and not just a focus group. A good measure of just how good it is is the fact that neither the media nor the opposition can really find anything to have a go at, the hardest part is yet to come ie; putting the policies together that reflects the concerns within the report.
Is it too much to hope that our tax & spend policies will be based on a similar report, or will we, as usual, talk to a few people in the "city" and assume they know how the rest of the country is feeling.
Final plea: keep Oliver Letwin out of site PLEASE!

I completely welcome the report findings, and no one can argue IDS doesn't know what he's talking about, he's been doing these kind of studies for years.

His candid support for marriage (when asked by a lefty BBC reporter if he thought he could be 'moralising', he said: 'Well, have you got any better suggestions?' - Good on IDS!) along with Cameron's support for the 'main thrust' suggests we have a policy in the making that all Tories can be proud of.

Cameron's speech on Tuesday was superb btw.

"These Labour politicians, they talk about being progressive; they pose as the champions of the poor and the vulnerable…

…and all the while preside over a Britain where the poorest and most vulnerable sink further and further behind."

Bravo Dave.

After criticising Iain Duncan Smith's daft proposal of adding 7p to a pint of beer, I would like to congratulate him on getting one of his policy proposals right. David Cameron's wish to "Mend Society" is something not to be sniffed at and IDS's proposal of giving married couples a £20 tax break can only help our declining society. It is a fact that a larger proportion of our juvenile delinquents, under achievers, drug users and criminals come from single parent homes. The statistics are not a hard and fast, many people from single parent families turn out alright, but they are disadvantaged when compared to those from two parent families.

Iain has also proposed an increase in benefits of £32 for married couples to bring them into line with single parents. It is about time, A single parent with 2 children working 16 hours a week receives £487 per week thanks to tax credit payments. Unbelievably a two-parent family, with one of them working, also with 2 children is required to work 116 hours to get the same income. This situation is ridiculous and no matter what Labour may say, it can only have a negative effect on the need to have stable family units.

Well done Iain, let's hope David Cameron takes this policy on board and that the Conservatives get into power. Strong family units with one of the parents able to work without being disadvantaged, should give the next generation of kids a better future than the one they face at present. I would hope that this proposal also extends to same sex marriages now that civil partnerships are becoming more popular.

We cannot continue to throw money at single parents, it has been tried, and it does not work.

If 17 (I think that's the number) European countries can favour marriage in the tax system, why can't we?

Alternatively, wouldn't a more "small-state solution" be to slash benefits thus making single parenthood less desirable without the tax system actively favouring one arrangement over the other?

Thats what i think about it.

Oh, and i like the extension of right to buy, although ideally housing is an area in which government should stay out of anyway. Liberalize planning laws and affordable housing would suddenly become available and at zero cost to the taxpayer. Its a classic area of where government is the problem and not the solution.
All this marriage stuff goes completely over my head. Married couples are indeed desirable, but its nothing the government has or should have much effect over, but eradicate any marriage penalties by all means.

Are you going to post the ratings of the Shadow Cabinet in the monthly surveys for the last few months at all?

I absolutely will, Richard. I'm sorry for the delay. There just aren't enough hours in the day!

As my earlier comments indicate I'm a big supporter.
It's adoption will depend on how well it is 'sold'. The key I think is to concentrate less on marriage tax breaks or taxing alchohol consumption which have grabbed the headlines so far but more on the essential beneficiaries of this report who are the children of Britain.
PS Very suprised at how few Conhome commentators have thought fit to say anything on this thread.

Just for the record I wasn't the Richard who asked about the Shadow Cabinet ratings.

As someone who is trying to survive day-to-day on incapacity benefit, I see nothing in the report that can help me get back to work. It is just a repeat of the old policies of punishing the unemployed for not having a job. The only ‘help’ available is to reduce their benefits. Just how driving people into deeper poverty makes them a more attractive candidate to an employer is lost on me.

I am out of work because of corrupt government policies. I continue to be out of work due to the secondary effects on my financial status, health and time out of work. No employer will ever consider me given my circumstances. I have BEGGED the DWP, government ministers, my own MP and senior opposition MP’s for help, but have been refused any assistance. I do not believe I am alone in being a victim of this government. There needs to be a commission to look into cases like mine and to repair our lives. However, this will never happen.

The policies outlined in the report would only cause unnecessary suffering and achieve nothing.

The policies outlined in the report would only cause unnecessary suffering and achieve nothing.

Posted by: David Bodden |

How ? Do please explain.....

Tom Tom, just following up from your comment last night:-

You are quite right, some of us don't cover everything on a thread like this, but when there is so much to it, don't you think it is sensible to stick with the areas you feel most inclined to comment upon? I personally prefer only to open my mouth (or rather write on its behalf) when I feel stirred to do so OR, in the case of CH, when I have grabbed enough time to do so.

In respect of your point, the welfare state is an aged, overweight beast undergoing some kind of care process; full of patch-ups, long waits and is the target of excessive, copious and squandered amounts of cash, just like some overpampered pooch owned by a rather eccentric owner.

I hear local people telling me about the injustice of the welfare system nearly everyday and there is real anger out there about what they perceive to be the way that hard earned money is frittered away in ways that they struggle to understand.

Taking nothing away from this Report, I have to say that it seems fairly safe territory for IDS to be walking in the bigger scheme of things. I wonder what the reaction of the masses would be if some of the more unpalatable areas of welfare and tax provison were to be focussed upon?

I wonder what the reaction of the masses would be if some of the more unpalatable areas of welfare and tax provison were to be focussed upon?

I don't know...but I do know that there is an obligation on the very well-heeled to bear some of the costs in society - that is how we avoid a demagogue getting the masses authorising him to seize everything.....however the well-heeled seem to have found out how to offload their obligations to others very much less well-heeled whilst the rich consume conspicuously.

They have thus antagonised a lot of people and may yet produce a society where power is concentrated and their wealth is simply expropriated. There is no reason for pluralist democracy to survive - it does not have an uncheckered history in Europe

Don't you think that EVERYONE has an obligation to contribute to the costs of society? It may sound simplistic, but it really would be a much fairer system if everyone were to be taxed at the same rate. The system would be easy to manage, there wouldn't be a requirement for loopholes and those with greater incomes would automatically contribute more to the system than those who earn less.

I'm affraid that there has to be truth in the view that higher taxation specifically for higher earners is just a tax upon success. Doesn't this just play into the hands of those who really want a 'level playing-field society', namely New Labour?

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