Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Should the tax system encourage marriage?

Well, it certainly shouldn't discourage it, and if David Cameron thinks that's currently the case, then maybe he has a point. But I honestly don't think the tax system should encourage marriage either.

It's not that I don't believe that marriage provides the most stable environment for children to be brought up in. It quite clearly does. But is providing tax incentives to get married really likely to provide more stable, loving homes - or might it actually achieve just the opposite?

Okay, so I probably move in rather traditional social circles compared to some, but most people I know got married because they believed they had found their soulmate, not because they wanted to find a way of knocking £200 a year off the income tax bill.

If there really is anyone out there who got married for those sorts of reasons - and that I rather doubt - then they are probably three quarters of the way to the divorce court already.

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David Gladwin said...

"...aimed at making it easier for one parent to stay at home to look after children."

So it's good old fashioned "keep the woman in the kitchen" then.

Same old.

Sim-O said...

It'll take more than 200 knicker for me or my wife to be able to stay home.

Raymond said...

In some ways, what David Cameron said makes sense. I'm inclined to agree that a lot of the problems in British society seem to be exacerbated - if not caused - by unstable family backgrounds. The statistics certainly support this view.

I have to agree with you, Paul, that tax is not the solution. Yes, we need to rebuild the family group as the norm. The government should be supporting families. I believe putting power back with the family group is a better way of achieving this: by systematically undermining the family group and its authority in society the government have created - or at least fuelled - the state the conutry is in.

So: we need fewer draconian and authoritarian laws and to encourage discipline led by parents; that's my recipe.

Ted Harvey said...

I never could see the English assemblies working. The Scottish Parliament was a de facto complete devolution of significant central powers; albeit Westminster still is the ultimate authority, even in the devolved activities. This devolution included the Scottish Executive have statutory superiority over local authorities.

So far as I can judge, that was never the type of package on offer to the English regions.

Paul I agree with your doubts about the ability of local authorities to think beyond their own boundaries. Here in Scotland it has been blindingly clear for almost three decades that neither Edinburgh nor Glasgow acting alone have the capacity to be truly globally competitive cities. However, acting together, they would constitute the largest definable market and business regions in the UK outside London. Despite this, it is only in the past couple of years that they have began, reluctantly, to build a collaborative basis.

The extreme distortion caused to the UK economy by metro London should be the significant issue for UK policy makers - something that afflicts all other English regions and Wales as well as Scotland. For my money 'city regions' are the best bet for creating alternative economic and cultural bases in the UK outwith metro London that would be globally competitive. The prize would be how to ensure that these developments have embedded within them, appropriate and sustainable political and governance structures.

There have been some excellent pieces of work on the city region theme such as the output of the IPPR’s Centre for Cities and the Work Foundation’s ‘Welcome to the Ideopolis’