Government urged to subsidize weddings for low-income couples to combat loneliness

A recent report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has proposed a novel approach to tackling loneliness among poorer couples in Britain: state-funded weddings, as reported by The Times.

Citing the stabilising effect of marriage on relationships and the financial barrier posed by wedding costs, the report recommends that the government provide up to £550 per wedding to cover administrative, legal, and booking fees for eligible couples.

According to the report, marriage is seen as a stabilising factor in relationships, yet many young couples perceive the cost of weddings as a major obstacle. To address this issue, the proposed policy would offer financial assistance to couples in relative or absolute low-income brackets, covering an estimated one in five weddings.

Under the suggested scheme, couples with an annual household income below £21,000 would be eligible for half the discount, provided they participate in a marriage preparation course. While this initiative would require an estimated £35 million annually from the Treasury, proponents argue that the long-term benefits justify the investment.

Jon Cruddas, a veteran Labour MP, voiced support for the measures, emphasising the complex nature of British families and the correlation between family breakdowns and increased loneliness and isolation. The CSJ’s polling revealed that single individuals are more likely to report feelings of loneliness compared to cohabiting or married individuals.

The proposed policy also addresses the “couple penalty” in universal credit, aiming to give couples more flexibility in managing their joint payments. Additionally, the report suggests narrowing the scope of the existing marriage allowance to low-income parents of young children to mitigate the risk of separation during a child’s formative years.

In response to the report, the government acknowledged the pressing issue of chronic loneliness and highlighted its commitment to addressing social connection as a means of tackling major health challenges. While the government has already invested over £80 million in loneliness-related projects, advocates argue that a new approach focused on nurturing human relationships is necessary to combat loneliness effectively.

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