Bishop: re­form tax sys­tem in­stead of re­form­ing mar­riage

The Church of England - - NEWS -

THE GOVERNMENT should spend more time re­form­ing the tax sys­tem to make it fairer to fam­i­lies in­stead of go­ing ahead with gay mar­riage pro­pos­als with “un­due haste”, the Bishop of Ex­eter has said.

Bishop Michael Lan­gr­ish launched a scathing at­tack on the child ben­e­fit changes, which he said will pe­nalise oneearner fam­i­lies, and also hit out at the Government’s fail­ure to bring in a mar­ried cou­ples’ tax break.

In a House of Lords de­bate, he said that fam­i­lies where one par­ent had cho­sen to stay at home to bring up a fam­ily should be “val­ued and sup­ported rather than pe­nalised” as it was ben­e­fi­cial to the devel­op­ment of their chil­dren.

He said that fig­ures showed 61 per cent of one-earn­er­cou­ple fam­i­lies ei­ther had a child be­low the age of five, some­one who was dis­abled or some­one with car­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties so the stay-at-home par­ent was not in paid em­ploy­ment out of ne­ces­sity.

From this month, peo­ple paying higher rate tax lose their child ben­e­fit, but Bishop Lan­gr­ish said: “Un­der the change, a one-earner cou­ple be­gins to lose its child ben­e­fit at £50,000 and loses it com­pletely at £60,000, while the two-earner fam­ily next door has the po­ten­tial to earn up to £100,000, so long as nei­ther in­come rises above £50,000, and keeps all its child ben­e­fit up to nearly £120,000, so long as nei­ther in­come reaches £60,000, be­fore los­ing it com­pletely. This is not a small un­fair­ness. It is very sig­nif­i­cant.”

He said Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron had ar­gued the top 15 per cent of earn­ers should make a greater fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion dur­ing dif­fi­cult times.

But he said the so­cial pol­icy char­ity CARE had re­leased fig­ures that showed a one-earner cou­ple with four chil­dren on £50,000 was in the least well-off half of the pop­u­la­tion, with a higher net in­come than only 45 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

“The re­moval of child ben­e­fit will push it even fur­ther down the in­come distri­bu­tion,” Bishop Lan­gr­ish said.

“A one-earner cou­ple with three chil­dren on £60,000 and in re­ceipt of child ben­e­fit is just in the sev­enth decile, but will drop well into the sixth decile if child ben­e­fit is re­moved.

“Mean­while, a two-earner cou­ple with two chil­dren on the same wage will be well up in the eighth decile and keep its child ben­e­fit.”

He said fam­i­lies with one earner on £60,000 al­ready paid a sub­stan­tially higher amount of tax than those with two in­comes of £30,000.

And he added: “There is an ex­tra­or­di­nary irony in all this. Prior to the gen­eral elec­tion, the then Leader of the Op­po­si­tion [Mr Cameron] talked at great length about his com­mit­ment to help­ing one-earner mar­ried cou­ples by giv­ing them a trans­fer­able al­lowance.”

He said the Government had found bil­lions of pounds to in­crease the per­sonal al­lowance which “dis­pro­por­tion­ately ben­e­fits those in the top half of the in­come distri­bu­tion”, while the trans­fer­able al­lowance would be “far more pro­gres­sive” as it would ben­e­fit lower earn­ers.

And he told peers: “Of course, to the ex­tent that the in­tro­duc­tion of trans­fer­able al­lowance was made as a com­mit­ment to recog­nise mar­riage, al­beit only in a one-earner con­text, the Government’s fail­ure to act has been ren­dered even more per­plex­ing by the fact that this mar­riage com­mit­ment in the Prime Min­is­ter’s man­i­festo has re­ceived no at­ten­tion, while pro­pos­als to re­de­fine mar­riage that were not in any party’s man­i­festo are pro­ceed­ing with un­due haste.”

Bishop Lan­gr­ish said time was run­ning out to in­tro­duce trans­fer­able al­lowances and ar­gued that the next Bud­get, in March, was the last op­por­tu­nity to do it be­fore the elec­tion and urged Chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­borne to make it a pri­or­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.