Clear public support for government intervention in child maintenance

ChequeA majority of people believe the government should enforce higher child maintenance payments, according to new research.

Sixty per cent of people surveyed by social research firm NatCen (the National Centre for Social Research) believe the government should set a minimum level for maintenance payments and not leave such decisions to parents. Only 17 per cent disagreed.

Meanwhile, 59 per cent of the respondents disagreed with the suggestion that the government should not enforce child support payments.

There is also widespread support for larger maintenance payments, especially when the non-resident parent has a higher income.

The majority of non-resident parents also supported government involvement and enforcement –  45 per cent were in favour of setting the level and 46 per cent in favour of government enforcement, compared to 28 and 27 per cent opposed.

Researcher Caroline Bryson said the report highlighted a gap between  public attitudes and the government’s current approach to child maintenance, which emphasises voluntary arrangements over compulsory schemes.: “Our study shows that the current statutory child maintenance system falls far short of public expectations, and the planned changes will move child maintenance policy still further from public opinion about what the state’s role should be.”

The research was funded by social research charity the Nuffield Foundation. Director of Social Research and Policy Teresa Williams said: “Public opinion is particularly relevant in this instance both because such a large proportion of ‘the public’ are directly affected by child maintenance, and because the planned reforms to the child maintenance system will put more of the decision-making into their hands.”

The data was gathered for the annual British Social Attitudes Survey.

Photo by David Goehring via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

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

JamesB - June 26, 2013 at 10:07am

Leading questions. Another couple below.

– Do you believe that the Government should protect children from abuse?

-Do you believe that the Government should do good things?

JamesB - June 26, 2013 at 10:07am

The truth is a lot more complicated then that.

John - June 26, 2013 at 10:26am

Those who want the government to enforce higher maintenance payments, wouldn’t be parents with care, would they?

We all know that figures can be ‘manipulated’ and questions ‘rigged’ to get the desired results, so I am taking this ‘flawed survey’ with a pinch of salt.

The facts of the matter are , that non resident parents are being demonised and criminalised on what is a personal matter, and they have a right to a private family life as per Human rights act.

Government policy should be to withdraw all together from interference in private family matters and disputes between parents should be heard in the courts with professionals, and not with grade2 staff at the CSA.

Having had 13 years experience as a parent with care and a non resident parent, I think that I am qualified to give an opinion.

CSA/CMEC has caused more problems than it has solved and still 20% of non resident parents do not pay maintenance. £3.8 billion remains uncollected. There are people under-paying, over-paying and others not paying at all. There is a three tier system CSA 1, CSA 2, CSA 3. I have been on CSA 1, and have been paying 30% more than those on other schemes.

I have paid maintenance, and have no problem in accepting my responsibilities as a parent. However, what I do object to is being criminalised and demonised by a shambolic, not fit for purpose system run by amateurs.

Paul - June 26, 2013 at 1:25pm

Another piece of Liz Trinder-inspired, so-called social research. She was also responsible for guiding the family justice review bods to the conclusion that enforcement of contact and custody orders isn’t truly necessary either. With her around, of course it isn’t, is it? Why on earth would we expect the likes of her to come to any other conclusion?

The more I see coming out of the Family Justice Knowledge Hub, the more depressed I get. But there again, I’m only a separated father, a bit like one of John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers customers that you don’t have to worry about.

Lukey - June 26, 2013 at 8:44pm

The percentages they are getting are not high enough to prove anything – it will depend how the questions were phrased and the emphasis of the questioner. This is a weak survey it seems to me with I suspect pre-determined results angled for.

Observer - June 26, 2013 at 10:17pm

I’m not sure why half my posts here never make it through. None of them have ever caused offense, but only speak the truth. So many times have I been censored here.

The organizations that sponsored this so-called research are well-known for manipulating statistics to suit themselves and those who pay them.

I wonder what else the public supports? I suppose they also support more lawyers earning higher sums for breaking up higher numbers of families and being a burden on the public purse too?! Let’s do some statistic crunching that proves that too.

Yvie - June 27, 2013 at 7:45am

My thoughts are very much in line with the other contributors who feel statistics can be manipulated and questions can be loaded to achieve the desired replies. I have very little faith in the impartiality of the Nuffield Centre.

JamesB - June 27, 2013 at 10:05am

How about :

‘Do you think that a father who has been maliciously manipulated out of his home for the mother to move in her richer lover who has so no children should be forced by Government coersion by all means and measures to sacrifice his income and life to contribute to their wealthy lifestyle while he lives with friends and relatives as he cannot afford a place of his own?”.

Winds me up this thread and these so called ‘experts’ they really are making a mess of things and I really hope the Government do not listen to them. I entirely am like Paul with his comment “The more I see coming out of the Family Justice Knowledge Hub, the more depressed I get.”

That’s what I am like when I see the so called professionals contributing to the debate.

Indeed when they had a select committee on this recently I did mail in that all the experts were on the side of the PWC. F4J, FnF, no one for the NRPs.

they mailed me back that there was – some Government org set up with Govt money to represent fathers with no members, saying they love to pay maintenance, the more the better. vs Gingerbread, Cafcass, etc. etc.

Paying to be insulted many times, through tax, child support tax, maintenance and exes and professionals and this nonsense all insulting us, being an nrp can be not much fun. Lucky I am The Man! ;-)).

Serious wind up though all this dodgy feminist policy.

JamesB - June 27, 2013 at 10:08am

I would be interested what the public percentage yes and nos for that answer to that question I put just now above would be. Then we might have a bit more of a serious constructive debate instead, rather than all this man-bashing nonsense.

JamesB - June 27, 2013 at 10:14am

Example of malicious manipulation is non molestation and occupation order, solicitors, everyone, and others saying it is for the best you move out, etc. E.g. when one party says a relationship is over it is, de facto, no fault, divorce on demand, benefits culture, etc. Then getting the bill for all this failed feminist policy – several times over, makes me sick. Not being paid any money for house, etc.

I could go on and on. Like I said above, the question posed was not right or fair or with sufficient regard to consequences. Indeed I would go as far as saying it was evil with evil intent.

JamesB - June 27, 2013 at 7:11pm

Very very bad show not posting that question. Took me ages to phrase it.

Basically it was about paying to be walked all over.

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