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It's Time To Back Marriage

16 February 2012

Full Report

Marriage is no panacea, but this paper argues that, combined with real early intervention, reform of the benefits system, and general couple support, it plays a crucial role in tackling social breakdown.

A transferable tax allowance for married couples would have a beneficial impact for the poorest, and reflect the strength of people’s aspirations to marry across the socioeconomic spectrum. These aspirations are currently being thwarted by the cultural and economic barriers faced by the poorest. The greater likelihood of family breakdown when couples have children in less formal relationships is presented as a significant problem.

While we recommend the implementation of a transferable tax allowance for all married couples in the long-term, in the current financial climate this should be staggered and married couples with children aged 0-3 treated as the priority. The costing options for this (given pre-budget 2012-13 basic tax rate/tax threshold) are as follows: married couples with children under three years old, the most important years for a child’s development: £0.8 billion; married couples with children under six years old: £1.15 billion; married couples with dependent children or in receipt of Carers Allowance: £1.9 billion; all married couples: £4 billion.