Peter Hoskin

Making social reform affordable

Making social reform affordable
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Last week we heard that the Tory leadership are considering limiting their £20-a-week marriage tax break to make the policy more affordable.  And, today, Iain Duncan Smith outlines just how that might work.  In his latest report for the Centre for Social Justice, he sets out a range of costings for the policy:

For all married couples: £3.2 billion

For married couples with dependent children or in receipt of Carers Allowance: £1.5bn

For married couples with children under 6: £0.9bn

For married couples with children aged 0-3, the most important years for a child’s development: £0.6bn

It's the final option, costing £600 million, that the Tories are said to be interested in – although they regard this more as initial step before extending the tax break to all married couples as soon as the public finances allow.

At which point, it's worth returning to the CSJ's incredibly important report on dynamic benefits.  Dave 'n' George were said to be put off the reform package it proposes because of its hefty, £4 billion-or-so price tag.  But, as I pointed out in this post, the CSJ set out a range of different costings in that report too.  Might the Tories sign up to one of those cheaper options for benefit reform?  Watch this space.

Iain Martin says that Tory policy on marriage and tax is becoming "more difficult to discern with each passing day".