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.