mc_squared Posted February 11, 2010 Share Posted February 11, 2010 Labour's legacy: Marriage rates plummet to the lowest level since 1862 By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 2:06 PM on 11th February 2010 Comments (40) Add to My Stories Enlarge Rare event: The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu's daughter Grace arrives at York Minster, as she battles against the elements in December The marriage rate has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1862, figures revealed today. As Gordon Brown's Labour government faced mounting claims it has failed to support the institution, it emerged that religious marriages accounted for just a third of all ceremonies in 2008. The number of church weddings fell by more than a quarter since 1998 - in the same period, the overall number of marriages dropped by 13 per cent, the Office of National Statistics revealed. Fewer people are getting married than at any time in more than 100 years. A total of 232,990 couples tied the knot in 2008 - down from 235,370 in 2007 and the lowest total since 1895. Marriage rate is calculated by the number of ceremonies per head of population. In 2008 there were 21.8 men marrying per 1,000 unmarried adult men, down from 22.4 in 2007, and 19.6 women marrying per 1,000 unmarried women over 16, down from 20.2 in 2007. Resolution, a group of family lawyers, said the legal benefits of marriage should be extended to unmarried cohabiting couples. Vice chairman David Allison said: 'A smaller percentage of people got married in 2008 than in any year since records began and at the same time the number of couples living together outside of marriage is on the increase. 'Yet the majority of people don't understand that living together does not give them any financial protection should the relationship end, which leaves countless people vulnerable to financial hardship if their relationship breaks down.' A Church of England spokesman said: 'Couples today see marriage as being the crown of their relationship, something to wait for, rather than a gateway to adulthood as it used to be. 'We have found that marriage is regarded as a serious commitment and something people aspire to, even those already living together. More... Why modern men shun tradition of asking father for daughter's hand in marriage'Daddy's coming tomorrow': D-Day for John Terry as he flies to Dubai for Valentine's showdown with wife Toni 'Making a positive public decision to a committed, life-long relationship changes behaviour - especially for men. 'We have found that men coming for weddings are as interested in their relationship and the quality of it as in the day itself. 'While the share of religious weddings has gone down, the share of Church of England weddings has remained stable at 24 per cent. Enlarge The overall marriage rate has declined steadily since 1980, apart from a slight upturn between 2001 and 2003 Enlarge The number of civil marriage has climbed steadily since 1991, while the number of religious ceremonies has fallen away over the period 'Many churches are inviting parishioners to celebrate marriage on Sunday at special services using new liturgy for Valentine's Day.' The Conservatives have outlined plans for tax breaks that will encourage couples to get married. Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: 'It has got to be right to support families and supporting marriage is part of that.' But the scheme has been attacked by both Labour and the Lib Dems. Schools Secretary Ed Balls said the policy was 'unfair' and amounted to 'social engineering'. And Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was an expensive 'bribe' that would prove unfair to many good parents. Family policy is shaping up to be one of the key battlegrounds at the general election as the parties clash over how best to spend increasingly scarce government resources. The shocking figures come just days after it was revealed that married British couples on modest incomes pay a third more in tax than their counterparts in other countries. A report, produced by CARE, a Christian social policy charity, showed how middle income families are financially penalised by the Government’s refusal to recognise marriage in the tax system. Enlarge No incentive: Married couples on a modest income pay a third more in tax than couples in other OECD countries A single earning married couple who earn up to £33,000 a year, pays almost one third more tax in the UK than the average tax payable in the 30 countries of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and 18 per cent more than the EU average. There are 2.5 million such families in Britain. In the U.S., a single earning married couple pays 48 per cent of the tax paid by a single person with no family responsibilities. But a comparable couple in the UK pays 75 per cent. The report points out that coming off benefits and into work means the marginal tax rate will actually be 70 per cent because of the loss of Tax Credit. The loss of Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit means the figure can be even higher. Don Draper, one of the authors of the report, said: 'The UK is in line with most other OECD and EU countries when it comes to tax rates, with the glaring exception of single-earning married couples with children – who are hit much harder.’ Co-author Leonard Beighton said: 'The tax system does not recognise the family unit. It sees taxpayers as individuals, regardless of their family circumstances. This is immensely damaging to the social fabric of the country and must be addressed by an incoming government.' 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