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Better and better off apart: Whither the new ‘family test’?

Date: December 8, 2014
  • In August, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the introduction of a ‘family test’ on all government policies. This initiative, formally launched in October, was widely welcomed by relationship organisations including Marriage Foundation.
  • As an example of “policy decisions which take no account of the family and sometimes make these things worse”, Mr Cameron specifically highlighted “the benefits system incentivising couples to live apart”.
  • Research by Marriage Foundation has found that half a million parents ‘pretend to live apart’ in order to claim thousands of pounds extra in tax credits. As well as encouraging fraud, this ‘couple penalty’ discourages marriage and healthy family formation.
  • In the Treasury’s Autumn Statement this week, new rates of tax credit were introduced for the year 2015-16. These show small but significant increases in Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits.
  • Far from challenging the ‘couple penalty’, these changes actually make it worse, for example increasing it by £80 per year for some couples with one child to £7,295 per year.
  • Marriage Foundation invites the Prime Minister to review perverse policy that contravenes three of the new five point ‘family test’.

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