Page 3, 31st March 2000

31st March 2000
Page 3
Page 3, 31st March 2000 — Marriage `attacked' by Brown in Budget

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Marriage `attacked' by Brown in Budget

By Simon Caldwell

THE. GOVERNNII VI has come under renewed criticism for the "anti-marriage" and "antifamily" agenda at the heart of its social policy.

Last week's Budget was condemned as "socially dangerous" because it discriminated against working married couples by skewing the tax and benefits system further in favour of lone parents.

Chancellor Gordon Brown will abolish the Married Couples Allowance next week and will replace it with the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). Critics say this will leave families of married couple far poorer than other "families" and single people.

Don Draper. tax and benefits adviser for Christian Action Research and Education said: "This is not only wrong and unfair but socially and economically dangerous — the Government should give a tax credit to a second adult in the family, as is done for many other benefits."

Sociologist Patricia Morgan said the Government was attacking marriage through its system of "incentives and disincentivesand by portraying support for marriage as "downgrading the family". She said it was ludicrous for the Government to target benefits at children "as if children bring themselves up".

She said: "This Government is very much anti-family and anti-marriage. You have got a benefits system constructed for lone parents. It doesn't reward mutual support and co-operation. You have penalties on a formal union which has no protection."

The Catholic Agency for Social Concern expressed enthusiasm for "increased payments fur children" through the WFTC and the Child Tax Credit, though Archbishop Cormac MurphyO'Connor of Westminster, the day before the Budget was announced, called for transferable tax allowance for married couples.

Stating his view that "one of the great evils of our society is the breakdown of family life," he added: "I believe that women who wish to remain at home to look after their children ought to be helped to do it and I hope that the Chancellor will do something about that tomorrow."

Research published on Monday by the Family Policy Studies Centre showed the rates of cohabitation, divorce, illegitimacy and single parenthood have all rocketted over the last 30 years while marriage has declined.

Yet four-fifths of dependent children still lived in a family with two parents, nine out of 10 of whom were married. The research also showed that the presence of children among cohabitees did not reduce the high rates of breakup that characterised such arrangements.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said last week he was committed to supporting 'people in families as they really are today, and not according to some outdated ideal".

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