Families 'Need More in Benefits, Not Tax Breaks for Marriage'

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Byline: Steve Doughty Social Affairs Correspondent

A TAXPAYER-funded think-tank said yesterday that instead of offering tax breaks for married couples, the Coalition should pay out billions more in benefits.

The Family and Parenting Institute, notorious for describing marriage as an unnecessary institution, said the best way to support the family was by increasing subsidies for jobs and handouts for those who choose not to work.

The group also demanded greater taxpayer spending on quangos like itself. The demands - in a report to Education Secretary Michael Gove - fly in Secretary Michael Gove - fly in the face of the Coalition's public spending review, which is expected to order cuts of up to 40 per cent.

The report stems from a conference organised by the FPI and its chief, Katherine Rake, who took over last year after leaving feminist pressure group the Fawcett Society.

But the recommendat ions provoked fierce criticism from rival think-tanks that do not enjoy public funding.

Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: 'This is an organisation which was created by the Labour government and which has had no or negligible impact on the lives of families.

'This report is about protecting vested interests.'

The FPI was launched by then Home Secretary Jack Straw in 1998 and its [pounds sterling]8.8million budget is funded almost entirely by Mr Gove's Department.

Its report noted remarks to the conference by Dr Rake about Mr Cameron's pledge to provide tax breaks for married people. Referring to the Married Couples' Tax Allowance abolished by Ken Clarke when he was Chancellor in the 1990s, Dr Rake said: 'It did not work. …