David Cameron's marriage tax breaks declared an 'utter flop' after low uptake

David Cameron made the tax breaks an election pledge as he said he wanted the government to recognise the importance of marriage

David Cameron’s tax break scheme for married couples has been branded an “utter flop” after just 8 per cent of those eligible for the allowance have applied, it has been reported.

The scheme allows couples to transfer £1,060 of their personal tax allowance to their spouse or civil partner. The break is worth up to £212 per year, or approximately £4 per week.

The Prime Minister said that the scheme was designed to recognise how the government values marriage and families and that the break would bolster the institution of marriage.

However, it has been reported that just 8 per cent of those eligible for the scheme have partaken of it.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Minister without Portfolio, told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s embarrassing for David Cameron and George Osborne that their flagship policy has been a complete and utter flop.

“Labour has always said that the Tories’ marriage tax allowance is perverse and unfair. It’s a huge benefit that doesn’t go to the vast majority of families, doesn’t go to widows and doesn’t go to people who have been left by an abusive husband. It’s clear the Tories need to rethink this whole policy.”

However, Conservative MP David Burrowes defended the scheme, arguing that greater uptake was required. He said: “We need to make sure that our commitment to recognise marriage in the tax system is more than window dressing. I will be pressing the Treasury to increase uptake.”

Mr Cameron made a manifesto pledge to include the tax break during the 2010 election race. He has previously spoken of his commitment to promoting marriage as an institution. In 2013, he told the House of Commons: “Frankly, I am a marriage man, I am a great supporter of marriage. I want to promote marriage, defend marriage, encourage marriage.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, more than a third of people in the UK were not and had never been married, an increase of 3 per cent from a decade ago. 

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