Government’s child maintenance plans ‘could increase poverty’

mother child beachPlanned changes to the UK child maintenance system could increase poverty and threaten the welfare of children, a charity has claimed.

A new report by social research charity the Nuffield Foundation into the maintenance arrangement of single parents on benefit suggests that around half of all private agreements break down within five years.

The report notes:

“Private arrangements appear to be difficult to sustain over  time.”

According to single parent charity Gingerbread, the finding means government plans to focus on private child support agreements between divorced and separated parents will encourage poverty and deprivation.

From next year, parents looking after children will be charged seven per cent of each payment if they apply for compulsory child support via the Child Maintenance Service, successor to the controversial Child Support Agency. Instead, parents will be encouraged to make arrangements directly between themselves, called ‘family based arrangements’.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said:

“At a time when private maintenance agreements are being sold as the best solution for separated parents, this study shows that for a significant group of single parents they are simply not feasible.”

She added:

“Introducing charges where private agreements haven’t worked risks making some of the most vulnerable parents even poorer – either because they have no choice but to pay to use the new statutory system, or because they give up on child maintenance altogether.”

Photo by jemasmith via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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11 comments

Yvie - June 8, 2013 at 2:26pm

I wonder if these Charities conduct their research on the same groups of mothers – i.e. single mothers on either benefits or low incomes. There are many different situations that parents find themselves in on separation, yet voices are always raised in support of single mothers in this category instead of looking at the wider picture.

Many single mothers particularly those who are pursuing their chosen career are often in a situation whereby they are financially far better off than the paying non resident parent. Add to that all the benefits which come automatically to the mother. Added also to that, she may have the benefit of a full time working partner.

Very few voices are heard in support of the non-resident parent (usually the father) who may have a shared residence, almost as much as the mother, and the fact that children are more likely to experience poverty when they are residing with the father, who, after he has paid his bills and child maintenance, may find he has very little left to feed and clothe his children.

I think this is the elephant in the room and many researchers prefer not to address, particularly those of the extreme feminist order.

James Amos - June 10, 2013 at 3:48pm

I am a specialist CSA lawyer who represent both men and women vehemently in their matters with the Child Support Agency.

I have to agree with Yvie who made her comment on 8th June last. There has to be a balancing of views on such issues and she is absolutely correct. We live in a feminist society and this is largely reflected in the courts. In the long run though everyone loses out.

Having said that, we take a fair and balanced approach to our clients’ matter, whether they are male or female. We fight hard to ensure they get justice irrespective of the challenges we face within the court system.

If anyone wish to speak with me then please call me on 0870 750 2130 / 0754 0062 567 (email info@selwynslaw.com).

Gail - June 11, 2013 at 9:02pm

My husband’s ex went to the CSA last month, and we have provided all our income and required expenditure info and it turns out that we are not expected to pay anything as we don’t have enough to give. They have had a mutual agreement in place for the last 11 years since they split where hubby pays her every month using the online calculator as a guide. Why she took it to the CSA we do not know, but we are now £121 better off a month for it. Now we have enough money to enjoy his son when he comes to stay instead of being stuck in because we have no money left!! I don’t know if the working we have is under new CSA calculations but I can’t see why everyone thinks they are so terrible, we have had the best outcome since they contacted us and nothing but good service from them.

JamesB - June 12, 2013 at 11:35am

Gail, I think there are three CSA calculation methods at least. I think you must be on one of the first two. The latest ones do not take into account expenditure at all, just a net deduction based on number of children you have. I don’t understand how anyone can get a nil rate as a nrp given the calculation as I know it. Even nrp people out of work and on benefits, on the bread line must pay £5 per month.

Paul - June 13, 2013 at 1:55am

You will find, time and again, that Gingerbread is primarily interested only in its core group of single mothers living on benefits and what it spouts on social policy generally is really driven by what it perceives as the needs of its market franchise. It has no purpose otherwise.

That they wangled their way onto the government’s panel of experts looking into shared parenting legislation only confirms the extent to which politicians remain in a state of denial over the issue. With people like Gingerbread around we will never move forward in resolving the debilitating social consequences of fatherlessness and fatherless families.

Luke - June 13, 2013 at 2:21pm

Gail, I’d have loved to see her face when the CSA gave her their ruling :-D

JamesB - June 13, 2013 at 4:04pm

Luke, me too :-).

John - June 19, 2013 at 4:09pm

The CSA have all ready cost two children their inheritance from me.

They have attempted to demonise and criminalise me, regarding the own children. Not the governments children, not the CSA’s children.

So, indirectly they have created financial hardship for my children when they leave the CSA system.

What happens between the children, their mother and me is our business to sort out through professional people and the courts where necessary. These issues should not be left in the hands of incompetent amateurs who are readily breaking the law daily and hiding behind statute laws and bogus officials.

it is about time that the legal eagles took the government and the CSA to task, via a programme of restorative justice for all CSA victims.

Esther - July 19, 2013 at 7:57pm

Okay what about people like me??

I am the resident parent of 3 children eldest 13 and youngest 6, my eldest has special needs, learning delay, behaviour and emotional problems along with a long term illness he has had most of these since birth and will have them for the rest of his life.

The non-resident parent in my case is parent to all 3 children, when the non-resident parent left the family home he refused point blank to pay any and I mean any form of monies towards the financial cost of raising his children, I tried for 9 months to set up and maintain a private agreement via ourselves, a mediator and solicitor and I finally caved and contacted the CSA as I was struggling to put food on the table, after a few more months and correspondence back and forth, I found out that he refused to communicate with the CSA in any which way and was put on an attachment of earnings order (AOEO), forcing him to pay, a period of about a year past and he requested that this be looked at and taken off, which it was and 9 months of late or non payments followed, the CSA then put back in place the AOEO.

2 years ago the non-resident not only stopped contact with his own children, but also fell of the face of the earth changing jobs and again not contacting the CSA or making arrangements to pay for his children, he was found 9 months ago, working and on a good wage of approx £35000pa, his AOEO was put in place again, arrears that were accruing where allocated and payments started, I asked for a reduced rate to hopefully keep him in employment, payments are due to stop in a few months as he is stopping work to go back to university, thus brining his rate to nil apart from his arrears, which wont be repaid until he is working again.

How and why is a parent who no longer lives with his or her children allowed to not support their children? I am not a single parent well not anymore, my husband supports myself and my 3 children, I am unable to work as I am a full time carer to my eldest.

I believe stronger powers should be put in place to protect the children so they are not put in a position of financial risk or poverty, I don’t think that the resident parent should be penalised, if the non-resident parent refuses to pay child maintenance they should pay any penalties surely that is common sense, of course the first methods should be to try the private maintenance route but for many this just isn’t an option or these do fail and breakdown.

I hate putting people in groups, your a single parent, your on benefits, surely with regards to child maintenance its simple child maintenance should always be paid fairly regardless of the situation!

mr smith ( for reasons) - October 3, 2013 at 8:38pm

this new system that does not take basic livin expenditure is going to cause me to loose my home/job or both. im on min wage 6.19 ph 39 hrs pw aroud 950 pm which is barely enough to cover my basic rent an bills, my ex is getting over 1600 pm on benefits/work an other sauces of income, which is ni on the same household in come as when I was livin there, yet by there calculator I will have to pay 39 pw. this amount is my food budget or fuel to get to work How is this fare I ask u?????

JamesB - October 7, 2013 at 9:19pm

It is not fair. It is policy written by one side for one side only. Like the new system. If pwc asks for CSA to collect then the NRP gets charged another £20 on top of every £100 they collect off of him. Sick. Even if he is skint and the ex is jetting around with a millionaire denying him contact with their children.

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