Governing marriage

February 16, 2011, 12:37 AM GMT+0

Over half of the British public believe that marriage is the best environment in which to bring up children and as such should be financially supported by the Government, our poll has revealed. Slightly less believe than it is not the Government’s place to support any particular type of family.

  • 53% of our panellists thought that married couples provide children with the best home and should therefore receive tax breaks and recognition in the benefits system
  • 38% disagreed and felt the Government shouldn’t be favouring any particular sort of family unit
  • More men than women favour tax breaks and government help: 58% of men want the Government to reward marriage through the tax system, compared to under half (48%) of women who support these measures
  • And while 42% of women feel that the Government shouldn’t support any one family type in particular, including single parent households and unmarried couples, just 33% of men were similarly opposed

Opinion also tended to be split along party political lines.

  • 74% of Conservative voters thought that the Government should financially back marriage, compared to 48% of Lib Dems and 40% of Labour supporters

Tax breaks and ‘true value’

The argument over the role the Government should play in supporting marriage, if any, has flared up again recently after Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, gave a speech defending the idea of state-backed financial support for couples who wish to marry, saying that ‘our true value is lastingly expressed through the lives of others we commit to’. But this has been a point of contention within the Coalition – previously, the Conservative party had vowed to give a tax break for married couples, but this was put on hold after the Coalition formed due to strong Liberal Democrat opposition. Before the election, Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader, called marriage tax breaks ‘patronising drivel that belongs in the Edwardian age’. The debate between the two parties remains as yet unresolved.

See the survey details and full results here