Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK
- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -
Children First: a new approach to child support
- Green Paper published by UK government on 6 July 1998
The following documents are available on the CSA website http://www.dss.gov.uk/csa/
Over the next few weeks we will be analysing the green paper and expanding this section, but here are our first thoughts.
- Full text of the green paper (HTML and Adobe formats)
- Press release
- Statement by Rt Hon Harriet Harman, Secretary of State for Social Security
Change in terminology
There is a welcome change in terminology, with the term 'absent parent' being replaced by 'non-resident parent'.
However the paper misses the opportunity to promote responsible shared parenting and instead refers to concepts which are at variance with the Children Act 1989, so we have:
As a result, it will still not be possible for parents who are sharing the care of their children to share the state benefits as well.
- parents who are 'looking after the children' (parents with care), and
- parents who 'pay maintenance' (non-resident parents)
Summary of proposals
- Non resident parents will pay 15% of their net income for one child, 20% for two, and 25% for three or more children. There would be reductions for those on low earnings or who have a 2nd family.
- There will be a maintenance disregard for resident parents on income support - they will keep up to £10 of maintenance paid.
- Payments by non resident parents whose children spend 52 nights a year or more with them will be reduced pro rata.
- The minimum payment of £5 (five pounds sterling) would be extended to up to 60,000 non-resident parents who are currently exempt.
- Tribunals will deal with special cases or where a parent thinks the formula has been incorrectly applied.
A missed opportunity to bring in something really workable. Despite all the window dressing it doesn't address any of the real issues and we are stuck with the old stereotypes of mothers looking after children and fathers paying, so where is the sharing in that?
This is a rough justice approach, with no allowance being made for:
- the real costs of bringing up children (on either side)
- existing arrangements arising from responsible shared parenting
- the costs of staying in contact with the children (often substantial)
- travel to work costs / child care costs
- housing costs of any sort
- the fact that the 'non resident' parent may have provided a house for the children to occupy in lieu of maintenance
Please send us your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
See also: National Association for Child Support Action (NACSA) - http://www.scallywag.com/nacsa/
Last updated - 8 July 1998
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