Ed Balls is a man whose surname invariably says much about the nature of his latest pronouncement. Today the news bulletins, particularly the BBC as might be expected, featured his reasons for opposing the Tories plan to bring in some form of tax relief for married parents.
Was the objection that it would be a waste of money; that he disagreed with the view that it is advantageous for married parents to bring up children and that until the children were eighteen, such families on average cost the state far less that other domestic set-ups? Oh no, such considerations were no mentioned.
In fact it was all about accusing the Tories of trying to carry out social engineering – talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
According to him, children whose parents who did not get the relief would feel disadvantaged compared with those who did. That is the last of the reasons which might cause children to feel disadvantaged, they would have noticed it long before then, and for reasons not solely based on income. How would a child know what another child’s parents either pay in tax or got as tax-relief? How would he discover that he is supposed to be disadvantaged?
It is the State’s job to maximise its return for its investment, and if you get a better return from your limited resources by encouraging marriage it’s what needs to be done.
Oh and a plea to the Tories, when considering such allowances, I would like to suggest that it should be extended to widows bringing up children on their own. For so many purposes they seem to be treated as “single women”, and to use Balls’ own words “disadvantaged” by their status. Widowhood is not a voluntary situation like that of a single mother, and always was in the past regarded as a honourable status. We should return to that situation.
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