PRESS RELEASE FOR UK MARRIAGE WEEK
Date: 29 January 2018
Government under pressure to back marriage as cost of family breakdown hits £51 billion
Family support minister Kit Malthouse will face questioning today by MPs (Tuesday 30th) over the Government’s failure to back marriage as the best structure for stable families.
The debate in Parliament comes the day that the annual cost of family breakdown, calculated by Relationships Foundation, is revealed to have reached an all-time high of £51 billion.
The figure, which has risen from £37 billion ten years ago, takes into account the cost to the taxpayer of families splitting up across areas including tax, benefits, housing, health, social care, civil and criminal justice and education.
The debate in Westminster Hall, which comes the week before International Marriage Week (7th-14thFebruary), was organised by Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Thomas commented:
“Marriage and family stability is not just a key issue for the government; it is the single most important underlying factor for the health of our society.
“Family breakdown costs the taxpayer an estimated £51 billion a year – more than our entire defence budget.
“Marriage is statistically the most effective arrangement yet created for keeping relationships on track and creating a stable environment for bringing up children. Married couples are several times more likely to stay together for life than unmarried couples.
“Children who grown up in stable family have a greater chance of being healthier, wealthier, better educated and more likely to form a stable relationship themselves.
“For too long governments of all persuasions have shied away from standing up for marriage, but it is more important than any public health campaign.
“Today, I will putting it to the minister that family breakdown is at crisis levels and so it the government’s responsibility to act to stem the flow.”
Under David Cameron’s premiership, the Coalition government brought in a married couples tax allowance “to recognise the importance of marriage.” However the sum, which amounts to £212 a year for those who claim it, has been dismissed as ‘derisory,’ by family campaigns, who say the amount would need to be increased substantially to have any impact on couple’s decisions to marry.
Sir Paul Coleridge, chairman of Marriage Foundation, the think tank dedicated to promoting stable families, which organises Marriage Week commented:
“The reason why the government should incentivise marriage is simple. Family breakdown costs £51 billion per year, more than the defence budget, yet without any kind of ministry or policy whatsoever to address it.
“Moreover, that figure cannot begin to take into account the intense pain and suffering felt by those experiencing family breakup.
“Currently in the benefits and tax system there is a couples’ penalty, whereby couples who move in together can lose up to £7,000 in lost state-supported income due to benefits and tax breaks being withdrawn.
“Any married tax allowance must at least match that disincentive to marry and form a stable family unit. An upgraded married couples tax allowance for first time mothers with children under three – where family breakdown is currently concentrated – would cost the same and stand a chance of actually making a difference.
“But most importantly the Government has to start preaching what they practise. Eight-seven per cent of earners in their income bracket are married, and yet only 25 per cent of the lowest earners tie the knot.
“This Government needs to champion marriage in both its policies and rhetoric to reverse the surge of family breakdown in the past 30 years which is damaging so many lives.”