The Telegraph today leads with the story that the Tories have promised tax breaks for married couples. Shadow chancellor George Osborne is quoted as saying: "Of course everyone is entitled to choose how to live their lives, and some marriages do fail, but we know that in general marriage is an institution that contributes to building a stronger society." Exact details of the tax breaks are apparently still being drawn up, but it is expected to involve the Married Couples Tax Allowance being reinstated in some form - I heard mention on BBC News this morning that it might mean an extra £20 a week for married couples.
Of course, none of this comes as any surprise, but will it make any difference? Will people really marry or stay together for the sake of £20 a week, or whatever the figure is? I have my doubts. It seems to me that there are far more important reasons to marry than a small financial benefit. If we accept the assumption that marriage is good for society, then I think we need to look far harder at the reasons why fewer people are getting married and more marriages are failing.