Planned tax breaks for UK married couples rapped as 1950s throwback

Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:38am EDT
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - Activists and opponents accused Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron of discriminating against single parents and promoting a fantasy 1950s lifestyle through his plans to give tax breaks to some married couples.

Fulfilling a long-standing pledge by his Conservative party to "recognize marriage in the tax system", Cameron has proposed married couples in which neither spouse is a higher-rate taxpayer should get breaks worth up to 200 pounds ($320) a year.

If approved by parliament, the measure will come into force in April 2015, just one month before the next national election. It is expected to benefit around 4 million couples.

"All we're saying is that marriage is a good thing for our country - it's the ultimate form of commitment under the law - and we want to show our support for it," Cameron wrote in an article published in Saturday's Daily Mail newspaper.

The measure will also apply to same-sex couples in civil partnerships. From next year, same-sex couples will be able to marry under a new law passed by parliament in July.

"This summer I was proud to make equal marriage the law. Love is love, commitment is commitment," Cameron wrote.

The main opposition Labour party said the measure would benefit a minority of married couples to the detriment of other groups, and any benefit was outweighed by a range of welfare benefit cuts introduced by Cameron's government since 2010.

"He's so out of touch he thinks people will get married for 3.85 pounds a week," lawmaker Rachel Reeves said for the party.   Continued...

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron talks to cancer patients during a visit to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, southern England September 28, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh