The Royal Wedding 29th April 2011

Prince William and Kate Middleton were married at Westminster Abbey in London on 29th April 2011. Royal Wedding 2011 Info covers all of the latest news, analysis, insight and discussion. The Royal Couple are now The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.


William and Kate getting married sets a good example

When Prince William and Kate Middleton exchange their vows next week, more than a quarter of the world's population are expected to be watching the ceremony.

As wedding fever goes global, it seems that we could do with a royal wedding boost to our marriage rates. In England and Wales they have recently fallen to an all-time low and 46 per cent of our children are now born outside wedlock. This week, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) released a new report showing that this lack of formal family structures is without historical precedent.

Yet the absence of the marriage ceremony makes a profound difference to the survival of couples' relationships.

The CSJ estimates that children born today have only a 50-per-cent chance of reaching the age of 16 in an intact household.

The main source of this breakdown is not divorce but fragile cohabitation. This parental separation is hard for children to cope with and the increasing rate of family breakdown harms a child's prospects, making it much more likely that they will fail at school, start using drugs and struggle to get jobs.

Family structure is important for children and marriage remains key to the endurance of that structure. David Cameron recognized its importance in his Conference speech last year, but we've heard little since.
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, and his girlfriend, Justine Thornton, whose wedding will take place next month, seem to be late converts to the advantages of marriage. Miliband has firmly rebutted any suggestion that his marriage is politically expedient. But this mark of commitment to the mother of his two young sons will certainly help to offset the bad press he received last year when it was revealed that he had failed to register as the father of his first child. Such an apparently casual attitude toward his family obligations created an impression he has since been keen to counteract.

Last month, Miliband gave a speech to the Resolution Foundation, an organization with close links to Labour whose declared mission is the design of policies to support low-to middle-earning households. These are the families who do not depend on welfare handouts for their main source of income, but who cannot be classed as well off and who suffer from some of the highest marginal rates of tax when they try to improve their earnings.

Traditionally, these are the families who have been wooed by the Conservatives: The strivers who want to improve their lives through their own efforts, provide for their children and stick together to give those children the best start in life. Many of them have already lost out since the Coalition came to power, due to cuts in family-based tax credits and the freezing of child benefit.

Those with only one breadwinner and one stay-at-home parent are being particularly hard hit. They have the least to gain from the increase in personal tax allowances and, if they have incomes of around $60,000 a year, will soon lose their child benefit altogether -a significant cut in the family budget, especially if they have more than one child. By taking up the cause of these families and giving shape and meaning to his previously inept definition of the "squeezed middle," Ed Miliband should be giving the Conservative-led Coalition pause for thought.

To date, the government's response has been uncertain. On the positive side, Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms will reduce the current bias in the benefits system which penalizes poor couples who bring up children together.

This should make it easier for some of the worst-off parents to marry and to stay together. But it does not amount to a coherent and sustained family policy.

The Conservative promise of a tax break for married couples, most likely in the shape of a transferable allowance, has yet to be spelled out, or given a date for implementation.


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