The British government will unveil a new approach to its family policy, which will acknowledge the importance of marriage.

In a Green Paper to be published later this month, the government will outline measures to shore up “stable parental relationships.”

Since the Labour Party came to power in 1997, its policies have been focused on children rather than the adult relationship, according to Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, schools and families. His department was now “changing the direction and face of family policy,” he told The Sunday Times.

“In the past I think our family policy was all about children. I think our family policy now is actually about the strength of the adult relationships and that is important for the progress of the children,” Balls said.

While the new policy will stop short of saying marriage is “superior” to other committed relationships, it will highlight how much better children fare if their parents stay together.

However, it does not mean there will be tax advantages for married couples – a move that Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to attempt to introduce should he be elected.

The charity Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) has regularly called on the government to provide more incentive for marriage through the tax system. Its director of parliamentary affairs, Dan Boucher, told The Baptist Times the government still has “a very steep mountain to climb if it wants to take marriage seriously.”

He pointed out that the tax credits and benefits system currently generates a fiscal incentive for couples with children on low to modest income to live apart. In addition, the taxation system in this country places a much greater tax burden on one-earner married couples than comparable countries.

If the government’s change of heart results in the reintroduction of a marriage support funding stream it would be “very welcome,” Boucher said.

But he added “if the new approach fails to address the broader fiscal environment, one must have serious questions about the level of government commitment to marriage and optimal child development.”

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.

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