Marriage tax breaks will ‘take the country back to the 1950s’ according to Mike Gapes MP

Proposed tax breaks for married couples will “take the country back to the 1950s”, according Ilford South MP Mike Gapes.

The move was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the Tory conference which kicked off on Sunday and was backed by Lee Scott, MP for Ilford North, who said there was “nothing wrong” with encouraging marriage.

The plans would mean some married couples would be £200 better off a year which would benefit people from the end of the 2016 tax year.

Labour MP Mr Gapes said: “It will take the country back to the 1950s rather than dealing with the world as it is today.

“They are basically telling children that some families are less deserving and some kinds of families are better to grow up in than others.”

Couples will be eligible for the tax break if both are basic rate tax payers with one earning less than £10,000 from 2015.

The prime minister said four million couples would benefit including 15,000 in civil partnerships.

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Conservative Mr Scott said he welcomed the changes which were pledged in the 2010 Tory election campaign.

“I welcome anything that will help people and give them more money in their pocket,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with rewarding marriage. I’ve been married for more than 26 years – I believe in marriage.”

But Mr Gapes said the changes would only help a select few and would not help single parent families or anyone who was widowed or divorced.

“I think it’s just a political gesture and it’s much better to help people by freezing energy bills. I don’t think people get married because they will be £200 better off – it’s a decision to have a lifelong commitment but some people have that and don’t get married.”

Mr Scott said he would look into whether the scheme could be expanded to include people who are in long term relationships but are not married. What do you think? Email or tweet @IlfordRecorder