Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has condemned Tory plans to introduce a tax break for married couples, just a day after the Prime Minister announced plans to bring the measure forward.
Speaking at press conference earlier today, he told journalists:
“I have never understood the virtue of a policy that basically says to people who are not married: you will pay more tax than people who are married or, more particularly, married according to the particular definition of marriage held by the Conservative Party.”
The money could be better spent elsewhere, he insisted.
“If you have got hundreds of millions of pounds to spend on tax breaks like that then I would much rather spend it on all working families to improve the tax breaks we are going to give them on childcare, for instance. We have offered, from 2015, tax-free childcare for working parents worth about £1,200 per child. I would like to see that expanded.”
The tax measure would discriminate against people who do not confirm to social norms, he declared.
“…for reasons that I have never quite understood, the Conservatives want to basically say to a widow…you are not going to benefit from a tax break even though you were married and you lost your husband. A woman who has been abandoned by her husband suddenly doesn’t get the tax break even though she believes in marriage.”
Tax break for married couples would be unjust and expensive, he concluded.
“This desire of the Conservative Party to hand-pick couples through the tax system who conform to their image of how you should conduct your life, I don’t think it’s fair. And I certainly don’t think it’s fair on all those other people who are going to have to pay higher taxes to fund this proposal.”
The Liberal Democrats have been vocal in their opposition to a tax break for marriage. Clegg dismissed the notion as “patronising drivel that belongs in the Edwardian Age” before the last election, the Huffington Post reports. The Coalition Agreement also contains a measure allowing the Liberals to abstain from any vote the recognition of marriage within the tax system.