David Cameron denies 'war' with single parents over tax breaks

David Cameron denied being "at war" with single parents today as he faced questions over planned tax breaks for married couples.

The Tory leader was accused of "discrimination" as he delivered a speech to members of lone parent charity Gingerbread.

Mr Cameron insisted the Government could not remain "neutral" on the issue of stable family units, and had to send a "long-term signal".

"My view is that there is an importance of trying to say that commitment and relationships and marriage are good institutions. They are good things," he said. "We shouldn't be completely neutral about them as a society.

"I think the tax system and the benefits system as well as helping people in the here and now as it should, also does need to think about what other long-term signals that we are sending out as a society.

"We should be sending long-term signals that are about commitment and the things that encourage commitment. It doesn't disadvantage other people, it's just saying that this is a good institution that society should recognise in such a way."

However, Mr Cameron also stressed that a Conservative Government would not ignore the difficulties single parents faced.

"Lone parents will not be on their own under a Conservative Government," he said. "There is not and never will be a war on single parents."

Apart from defending his party's proposals for tax allowances to be transferable between married couples, Mr Cameron warned that society was ignoring the role of extended families.

He said houses and flats were often being built too small for people to enjoy a family meal, or for grandparents to stay if necessary.

There had been reports that Mr Cameron's aides requested that media access to the event be restricted for fear that he would get a rough ride.

After his speech, one woman single parent demanded: "You talk about tax and that you are looking at providing tax cuts for married couples.

"Do you not think that is discrimination against someone who pays their tax bill every month, and someone who is going to find that my friend down the road who has managed to find Mr Right gets away with paying less tax than I do, just because I am raising my children by myself?

"Also don't you think that's perpetuating the stereotype that actually a married couple is better than a single family?"

Another woman was greeted with applause when she warned that politicians were reinforcing false stereotypes about single parent families.

"What is the Conservative Party going to do to help organisations like Gingerbread to help smash down the images and stereotypes that we have of lone parents?"

Mr Cameron replied: "I think we all have a role in trying to make sure that we portray things in a more reasonable way and a less black and white way."

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: "While we welcome his strong message about stigmatising, we would like to see them reflect that through policies.

"He risks making single parents feel like second-class families."

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms accused the Tories of being in an "utter mess" over marriage tax breaks.

"He (Mr Cameron) says he's deadly serious about marriage and intends to spend billions on a tax giveaway to wealthier married couples.

"Then he tries to deny to an organisation of single mums that he intends in any way to discriminate against them.

"The truth is, his marriage tax allowance is unfair and unfunded - it would cost £5 billion and give 13 times as much to those at the top than those at the bottom."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam