Cameron’s “patronising drivel” is offensive and costs the same as EMA

The Tory flagship 'family values' policy, the Married Tax Allowance, has been found to have little impact on children's lives, a new report from Demos reveals.

The Conservatives’ flagship ‘family values’ policy, the Married Tax Allowance, has been found to have little impact on the lives of children, according to a new report from the think tank Demos. The research says the policy – slated as “patronising drivel” by Nick Clegg during the general election campaign, is:

“… a distraction from the real challenge, which should be to ensure that children grow up in stable and nurturing environments that support their social and emotional development…

“There is no evidence of a ‘marriage effect’; rather marriage is probably a proxy for more successful relationship. Government is right to support a proxy for more successful relationships in so far as they impact on children. However, many married couples do not have children, making this proposal both moralising and inefficient, as it draws resource away from some of the most at risk families.”

David Cameron intended the policy, which would entitle one third of married couples with children to an extra £3 per week, to “send a signal” about marriage. However, many families who do not meet the prime minister’s template have found the message offensive.

Josie Cluer, campaign director of the Don’t Judge My Family Campaign, said:

“The proposed marriage tax allowance would cost over half a billion pounds a year to implement. If David Cameron really cared about what was best for families and kids, he would be using that money to protect Sure Start, EMA and child benefit: not using to appease the dinosaurs on the right of his party.”

In total, the Married Tax Allowance is projected to cost £550 million by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, approximately the same amount as, or more than:

• The EMA, projected to cost £564 million in 2010/11;

• Cuts to the Early Intervention Grant, which enables councils to pay for Sure Start, of £300 million;

• Cuts to the legal aid budget, which helps those on modest incomes secure legal representation of £300 million.

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