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The £18,600 price tag on love - time for action

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Posted on September 13th 2018

Thousands of families will be happy to hear the Labour Party's renewed call to scrap the Minimum Income Requirement, which stops anyone earning less than £18,600 a year from marrying a partner from outside the European Economic Area. As the shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said in a speech to parliament on Thursday, “the right to a family life is a right. Your ability to enjoy it should not depend on what you do for a living or how much you earn.”

We are a nation of 20 million families, but under this legislation over 40% of British citizens would not be able to marry who they choose – and with poverty levels on the rise, that number looks set to grow. As many of us know, you can’t choose who you fall in love with – but this government, in effect, tells us who we can and cannot love and build a family with.

Thousands of people who have fallen in love with someone from the “wrong” country are fighting for their right to live together, working multiple minimum-wage jobs or being forced into exile. This is a British law that is driving British families apart, or away.

It’s a policy so unjust and illogical that it should have been binned as soon as it was dreamed up. Instead it has rumbled on for 6 years – that’s 6 years of bedtime stories over Skype, of missed birthdays and anniversaries, of not even having the right to squabble over things like whether to watch The Bodyguard or Vanity Fair come 9pm. And for the over 15,000 children affected, the policy continues to have a particularly devastating effect.

A British woman who was left suicidal by the rules said the following about Diane Abbott’s announcement:

“It took me almost a year to meet the MIR. It affected me in more ways than people can imagine, and still does. More and more people are being pushed into poverty because they are unfortunate enough to fall in love with someone from outside the EEA.

“It’s just another way the government discriminates against anyone who doesn’t have a healthy bank balance. We should be used to them putting a price on things, but I never thought I would see the day when they tried to put a price on love.”

Momentum is building to scrap these rules. Every major opposition party is now committed to getting rid of the Minimum Income Requirements – now it’s high time for our political leaders to act to protect families and end this injustice.

 

If you or somebody you know has been affected by the Minimum Income Requirement, please email our campaigns officer Mary on mary.atkinson@jcwi.org.uk to find out more and join the fight.

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