IDS, Cameron and Osborne have taken a huge a political gamble, as James noted earlier, and they have also taken an enormous social risk. It is telling that the Centre for Social Justice, IDS’ think tank, are lukewarm about the proposal, describing it as ‘probably appropriate’ but calling for an alternative. Skipping through the comments on Mumsnet and you can see why. Many of those whose combined income is roughly £44,000 - £55,000 are saying they’d be better off divorcing, which totally defeats the object of IDS’ wider welfare reforms – there is no point in transferring family breakdown from the poorest to the next run up. There is also the added problem that some mothers will be forced into part-time work, competing for jobs that should be earmarked for those trying to spring the welfare trap, which would also affect gender pay equality as more women will be forced to take low-paid part-time work whilst men stay in full-time employment.
The obvious solution would have been to means-test child benefit so that penalties against work and family unity are overcome, as well as any other anomalies. This is unaffordable, so the government needs to find other means to address the issue as best it can. I can now see sense in the so-called marriage tax break. Transferable tax allowances would be better still.
PS: Or you could hide your income in a pension.