David Cameron has announced that his long-mooted tax breaks for married couples will begin in 2015 and will amount to a subsidy of up to £200 a year for the beneficiaries. The scheme will equally apply to straight couples as those in civil partnerships however eligibility for the latter will start at the end of the tax year in 2016.
The policy, which was part of the Tory election manifesto in 2010 and a pledge of Cameron’s leadership campaign in 2005, comes ahead of the Tory Party conference in Manchester this week and comprises a £1,000 transferable tax allowance, which could benefit more than four million couples.
Writing in the Daily Mail, the PM said: "I believe in marriage. Alongside the birth of my children, my wedding was the happiest day of my life. Since then, Samantha and I have been a team. Nothing I've done since - becoming a Member of Parliament, leader of my party or Prime Minister - would have been possible without her. There is something special about marriage: it's a declaration of commitment, responsibility and stability that helps to bind families. The values of marriage are give and take, support and sacrifice - values that we need more of in this country."
The move comes following a pact with the Lib Dems, which allowed Nick Clegg to announce his policy of free school meals for every schoolchild under the age of eight in recent weeks.
Cameron said: "When I ran for the leadership of my party back in 2005, I said that I wanted to do more for marriage in the tax system: a personal pledge that I made right at the start of my campaign - and I then backed that up with a pledge in our manifesto at the last election.
"So this week at the Conservative Party's conference in Manchester, I'm going to deliver on the promise I made. From April 2015, if neither of you are higher rate taxpayers, you will be able to transfer £1,000 of your tax free allowance to your spouse. In effect, if you pay the basic rate of tax and your partner doesn't use all of their personal allowance, you'll be able to have some of it. Most couples who benefit will be £200 a year better off as a result.
"And of course this will be true if you're gay or straight - and in a civil partnership or a marriage. This summer I was proud to make Equal Marriage the law. Love is love, commitment is commitment."