Not so well done to both CH and the News of the Screws for their slant on this story. They both seem to think that this demonstrates (in the words of the Screws) the wisdom of "David Cameron's tax-break pledge to give married couples an extra £20 a week", or (in the more accurate words of CH) "the problem that Iain Duncan Smith's social justice report was attempting to begin to address".
So a £20/week tax-credit will make a difference to a couple who stand to lose £878/month if the man gets a job, will it? And is this related to whether they are married? Or would this couple face the same disadvantage if they were co-habiting? Is it only children of married couples who deserve to have their dad living at home?
Our broken welfare system needs a complete overhaul. A £20/week tax-credit to married couples is such an ineffectual and partial solution that it is an insult to anyone who genuinely cares about putting this right. It has nothing to do with a genuine desire to rebalance the system, and everything to do with appealing to traditionalists within the Tory party.
What does this story really tell us? Sean Ash is on disability benefit because of 'painful sciatica'. Chloe Ash is on disability benefit because of 'manic depression'. Between them, thanks to these debilitating medical conditions that have prevented them from taking employment of any kind and the generosity of the welfare system to non-workers, they have a disposable income of £1,702/month. That is £20,424/year. This puts their household income somewhere between the fifth and sixth decile in terms of income distribution (figures available for download from the ONS). In other words, around half of all households in the UK have a lower final income than Sean and Chloe. Not bad remuneration for doing nothing.
Now Sean has decided to take a job, his loss of benefits means that the household would be worse-off (£1,472/month) than if he stayed on disability. So they have split up, because, as Chloe says, staying together "meant my little boy would suffer". I bet their little boy is really glad that his mum and dad protected him from pain by splitting up.
And the answer to this is to give a £20/week tax break to married couples?
Talk about cowardice (in not dealing with the problem properly) and self-interest (in using a serious problem to justify a sop to your supporters). Thank God the Tories sacked IDS. If David Cameron has the gall to back this proposal, it will provide one more reason why they should do the same to him.
Or, as this is really evidence that traditionalists or conservatives within the Conservative party have nothing in common with those who actually care about reforming Britain for the better, more evidence that the classical liberals should leave the Tory party to whither in the hands of these unpleasant old farts, and go off and start a political party that reflects classical liberal principles and values. Like ensuring that Mr and Mrs Ash have the right incentives to do the right thing for society, themselves and their little boy. And that will require much bigger changes than a £20/week tax-break for married couples, and the other tinkering measures proposed by IDS's group.