Tories need to quit ‘social engineering’

By Ian Dunt

The Conservative policy of encouraging marriage has come under fire from the government, with claims the party is trying to socially engineer Britain.

On the same day as welfare secretary James Purnell announces a new partnership with counselling service Relate, he will lambast the Tory policy on tax incentives for marriage.

“Instead of social engineering, David Cameron should be trying to help all families out of poverty,” he will say.

“His policy wouldn’t work – marriage is about more than a tax break. And it would discriminate against other families – for example widows or single parents whose partner had walked out, or been thrown out for being violent.”

Mr Purnell is also meeting the community activists who helped in the search for missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews today, at the invitation of local MP Shahid Malik.

“It is time the Tories stop seeing welfare reform as a ‘piggy bank’ of cuts to pay for their latest pet projects. Struggling families need real help now and real help for the future, not being told to get married,” he will say.

“Cameron’s answer is to talk down people in this community rather than address your concerns. Claiming unspecified cuts from the benefits bill, he will spend billions on incentives to get married rather than on helping people get back to work.”

The Tories argue that Britain’s current welfare system, which gives greater assistance to single parents, encourages couples to split up.