The Jungle

The new Government want to charge people for claiming Child Maintenance. It’s part of a consultation called Stengthening Families, which is based on a far-fetched Tory ideology that one parent families are always the result of an amicable marriage split. Bear with me through the figures….

They want to encourage single parents to make a cordial agreement about the costs of raisng their children. If they can’t, the parent with care will have to pay an upfront charge of £100 (£50 if they are on benefits), as well as a deduction of between 7 and 12 per cent of money collected. The non-resident parent gets charged too, a surcharge of between 15 and 20 per cent on top of the maintenance they pay, further encouraging non-payers. You see, some people don’t want to contribute to the upbringing of their children. The Tories refer to charging the non-resident parent in the extreme event they do not comply and the order of a sale of property is required. Since when did everyone have the luxury of their own property? Not in my world, Mr Cameron.

I am aware that women can and do shirk the responsibility of parenthood, but here I’m referring to what I know. There is no umbilical cord to connect a male to his offspring; he can go off into the forest and look for another mate and it is the female who carries and bears the child and feeds and nurtures it. When you’re young and pregnant and scared, sometimes you wish you could run away and hide in the undergrowth, but you can’t because wherever you run the baby goes with you.

Thankfully, humans have evolved so that most males take pride and joy in fatherhood, even if they are not in love with the mother. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.  “I don’t want anything to do with it” is not a good enough get-out clause.  Sometimes, asking for  a small financial contribution (15% of earnings – or £5 a week if they happen to be claiming benefits) is the only way of making the man face up to his responsibility. But they’ll always view the mother as slightly nutty deviant, not stopping to think that it will cost her far more than 15% of her earnings to raise a child. These people are adept at ducking and avoiding the system. They know where to hide. Of course they’re not going to be traceable on an Inland Revenue check, because they’ll make damn sure they don’t work anywhere where they will. They will move regulary so they are always a couple of steps ahead of the CSA. These are the people that the CSA admit ‘will always slip through the net’, but these are precisely the sort of people who should be made to accept their responsibility.

The new proposals are short-sighted and simply not applicable to situations where one parent has vanished and doesn’t want to pay. No one should have to pay £100 to use a service from which some people will always be exempt, plus a deduction of maintenance received, on top of the cost of endless, anxious calls to 0845 numbers.

I gave up using the CSA. When children are babies, people say “Ooh, what about nappies?” and there’s a short gap after potty training, but then the school meals come. They cost £8.50 a week, so the sporadic fiver a week when it comes doesn’t even cover it. I didn’t feel beaten when I gave up, I felt free of a lot of futile stress and anger. I work hard and I can afford to keep a roof over our heads, for now. Granted, home’s not in the area I would like and we don’t have a garden, but it could be so much worse. I’ll never afford to buy a house and I’ll be eternally paying off terrifying credit card bills, but we’re lucky compared to some. Some people desperately need the Child Maintenance they are entitled to in order to raise their children. This is where children suffer. They shouldn’t be penalised because their Mum and Dad weren’t once married and one of them chose to disappear: the two scenarios simply aren’t comparable.

Mr Cameron, how are you supposed to come to an amicable agreement with your child’s non-resident parent when you don’t even know if they’re alive or dead?

Please write to your local MP if you think these proposals are unfair.


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8 responses to “The Jungle

  1. B

    Well put. I completely agree.
    The Con-Dems view on modern family life is out dated and completely incomprehensible to families living outside of their upper-middle class target audience, [and dare I say it… in ‘The North’ of England].
    How are we supposed to have a feasible future with this government, when the people in society most in ‘need’ are penalized for circumstances that are often out of their control?

    [PS. I’m a rare commenter, but really enjoy your blog!]

  2. Ragged Thread

    My head went smack into a brick wall at the first sentence. Gathering my wits and reading it more than twice, just go be sure I’d understood, I ploughed on, in disbelief. I am so sick of this sick circus. This is not only unfair. It’s actually quite mad.
    I don’t even have children, and that’s hardly the point in a democratic society. I’m glad to pay my taxes to support children. I think I just will write to the local MP. About that and the libraries.

  3. I have emailed my MP (via gingerbread)and got a reply saying they are looking into it. I am in the category of ex has left work and publisiched the fact he will never work again as he will then have to pay ‘me’ (he doesn’t see it as money for his child)
    He wasn’t working or claiming apparently for months, I gave up and actually didn’t care. we live 100’s of miles away now and he has no contact (his choice)
    But got a letter the other day saying I should expect to receive £5 a week soon.
    As you point out, exactly what is that meant to buy? Part of me want to be frivolous with it and buy LO a new car each week.
    In an ideal world us adults would be able to sit down, and the non-resident parent agree to pay £x amount. But then the reality of issues like domestic violence, absent parents etc make this impossible.
    For me this is a very nasty way to get some money back or the reality put people off claiming. And who exactly misses out? Oh yes us poor single mothers who can’t go out and buy fags and booze. *massages chip on shoulder*
    No the children miss out as the resident parent is stressed, worrying about how to sort it out.
    I know the CSA has been bad, it is not economical, no one is going to argue with that, they are inefficient and ineffective. many of us are able to clearly see that. So maybe charging us for a service that is basically flawed isn’t a great idea?
    Please email your MP

    • Emily

      Isn’t it absurd that they would rather not work than work and pay a contribution to the raising of their children? That’s being hell-bent. And yes, it will always be seen as money for us rather than the children. Good luck. I am lot less stressed out since I gave it all up.

  4. This gives people more excuses not to pay for there kids.

    It took my partners ex years to provide anything to my stepson, and the it was a fiver. this will stop it dead in it’s tracks. Roll on the day i adopt him as my own!

  5. mumsyjr

    Sounds like those in power on your side of the Atlantic are not much better than those on my side of it. This saddens me. Good luck getting out the message to them, though, hopefully they are at least better at listening over there.

  6. Those stupid Con-Dems are fucking mad, it’s all I can say. I’ve never claimed, for all the above reasons, it’d be stupid. I’ve seen mums in tears because of the wrangle and insults from the ex, simply for a couple of meagre squids which go nowhere. Nowhere. I pay at least £40 a month in bus fare, and more than that in lunches. Even music lessons are a no go now (£28 plus an hour).

    When they start wearing adult clothes, and with boys it happens at around 12, it gets astronomical. I’m starting to think: ‘stop stringing the cash out, deal with the financial meltdown when he’s left home.’

    But, I’d rather this than a flood of trouble.

    There are those who have horrible ex partners to deal with every week; being completely alone is a better position.

  7. Pingback: Decisions, Decisions | My Shitty Twenties

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