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Think tank calls for more action on enforcing child support
Fathers who no longer live with their partners and are on benefits should be made to work if they refuse to take financial responsibility for their children, claims think tank Policy Exchange in a new report.
The report calls for the government to target these individuals and fast track them on to work experience schemes to try and get them back into the labour market. Men who refuse to participate should have their benefits removed.
The report notes that other countries, particularly the US and Germany, have been far more successful in making sure that absent fathers on benefits are taking on their parental responsibilities.
The report says that it is time the government forced these men to take responsibility for their actions. It makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Imposing work obligations on absent fathers claiming benefits.
- Requiring both mother and father to include their names on the birth certificate.
- Keeping child maintenance payments in place for each child regardless if the parent goes on to have more children with new partners.
The report also recommends exempting single parents claiming Income Support from paying a fee to access the Child Support Agency (CSA).
According to Policy Exchange, the government’s proposals to introduce charges are a sensible attempt to push those parents who are capable of making their own arrangements into doing so. However, the new arrangements will mean people on benefits paying £50 to access the CSA, the equivalent to almost a week of Income Support. If they are trying to chase payment from an absent father on benefits who is obliged to pay £5 a week, the total they can expect to gain over a year from the CSA would be £260.
Therefore, charging to access the CSA would deter those who most need financial support from accessing the service.