• Catherine Utley

Lord Lexden continues efforts to achieve justice for cohabiting siblings

11 April 2019

Conservative peer Lord Lexden

Continuing his efforts to achieve just fiscal and legal treatment for long term cohabiting siblings, the Conservative peer, Lord Lexden, tabled a written parliamentary question in the House of Lords on 26 March. The question followed up on a pledge made by the treasury minister, Lord Bates, in the Lords on 21 March. Lord Lexden's question read as follows:

"To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Bates on 21 March, when the cross-departmental working party to consider the fiscal disadvantages experienced by sibling couples will be established; what will be its terms of reference; and when its report will be completed and published.

The minister responded on 9 April with the following written answer: "The Government will consider the issue of siblings and inheritance tax through the Office of Tax Simplification’s review of inheritance tax. Their report is due to be published in spring, and their recommendations will be carefully considered".

This prompted the following further written question from Lord Lexden, tabled on 10 April:

"To ask HMG, further to the answers given by Lord Bates on 21 March and 9 April, what considerations led them to set aside their proposal to establish a working party on the fiscal disadvantages experienced by sibling couples".

Catherine Utley of Family Ties Matter, said: "Lord Bates' recent comment in the House of Lords that he would happily set up a working party to see what needed to be done to address the disadvantages faced by cohabiting siblings was very welcome. It seems extraordinary to us that he should have gone back on it so quickly and with no reason given. We are, as always, hugely grateful to Lord Lexden for his persistence in holding the government to account over its refusal to address the continuing injustice. We also look forward to the report of the Office of Tax Simplification's review of inheritance tax mentioned by Lord Bates. This must, at the very least, put right the terrible unfairness of excluding cohabiting siblings from the main residence inheritance tax allowance, currently only available in cases where a home is passed to direct descendants. There is no conceivable justification for this; it is simply wanton discrimination against siblings who live together for decades and naturally wish to leave the shared home to each other on death".