Clarke: Married couples should not 'count on' tax breaks

Married couples should not "count on" the Government delivering them tax breaks before the 2015 general election, Cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke said today.

Conservatives fought the 2010 election on a promise of a transferable tax allowance that could be worth £150 a year to married couples where one spouse stays at home.

But the measure was opposed by Liberal Democrats, who secured the freedom under the Coalition Agreement to abstain in any vote on the issue, and Mr Clarke indicated today in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that tough economic conditions made it unlikely to be introduced before 2015.

Former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said tax breaks for married couples might not happen before the next election. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Despite the better-than-expected growth of 1% in the third quarter of 2012 announced earlier this week, Mr Clarke said it was too early to be certain the economy is bouncing back.

Saying that he believes a "long hard road" still lies ahead, Mr Clarke indicated that married tax allowances may be a casualty of the tight economic conditions.

"We never committed ourselves to married couples' tax by the end of the Parliament," the minister without portfolio told the Telegraph.

"I'm married, I'm not counting on it. I don't remember anyone promising that kind of thing."On the economy, Mr Clarke - a former chancellor - said: "It would be absolute folly to turn around and say it will all be fine by Christmas."