Today we had a prediction and a promise. Firstly the prediction. Figures out today predict that a majority of children born in 2016 will be to unmarried parents. It’s 47% at the moment. And the promise is from George Osbourne – he promises to announce a marriage tax allowance in the autumn.
I’ve set out my opposition to the allowance at length so I won’t repeat myself. I’ll just point out that arguments about the benefits of marriage often confuse correlation with causality. In general wealthier and more highly educated people get married. Is it any wonder their kids do better?
Marriage is no longer the norm for new parents. Families come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I think this is great. I’ve no problem with people choosing to get married. And I’ve no problem with people who don’t, won’t or can’t do it either.
My partner and I are unmarried. We have two kids. We’ve been together many, many years. I don’t think being married would make us better parents. Or increase our likelihood of staying together. At present we are already disadvantaged by the tax and benefit system by cohabiting but not marrying (Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, bereavement benefits etc.) This hasn’t encouraged us to walk up the aisle and so I doubt £150 transferable tax allowance would either.
One of the few things that might have persuaded me to marry was whether I thought my boys would face shame or stigma because their parents weren’t married. I believe that thirty years ago they probably would have. Given the figures above I really hope that this is no longer the case. Certainly I’ve never felt embarrassed about it and never got the sense others were particularly bothered. Of course people often call me Mrs so-and-so which can be a little awkward. But thankfully us unmarried mums are increasingly common and I’m glad of it.
So here’s to all the little ones, whether in the 47 or 53%. Let them be happy and loved and prosper and let their parents’ marital status be nothing but their own business.
If you want to show your opposition to a marriage tax allowance you can do so here.