A genuinely hostile place

The Government are going ahead with their plans to charge parents who need to claim child maintenance. This is despite an in-depth ‘consultation’ and letters, phone calls and emails from me and many others. They think that this will “strengthen families”, that feuding couples will be more likely to “choose” to come to an amicable agreement about the costs of raising their children.

Perhaps that is possible in some cases. Cases where the split was mutual, where there was a family home, where the absent parent has love and time for their kids. But in many cases, the parent is missing, or never took responsibility, never wanted to know. In 97% of one parent families, the absent parent is the father. David Cameron knows that these men exist, because inthis PR piece in the Telegraph on Fathers Day, he berated them. He thinks that ‘runaway dads’ should be named and shamed like drink drivers. Perhaps they could be banned from shagging for nine months too.

What ‘runaway dads’ really need to do is take responsibility for their children. Cameron and co’s logic says that if a parent needs to claim child maintenance to help them with the financial cost of raising their children, they must pay. They want to charge them because they have ‘chosen’ not to arrange it themselves, when that’s impossible. It’s a bit like saying “we’re going to fine everyone who can’t tie their legs in a double knot behind their head” – only more ridiculous and more tragic. Kids from the poorest of families will suffer. Many people who use the CSA do so because they have to, not because they want to.

It’s going to cost a hundred pounds to apply to the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (the new CSA.) Who has that to spare when they’ve just been left holding a baby or putting an older child through school? Statutory maternity pay is little over a hundred pounds a week and there’s always going to be something, whether it’s a pram or school shoes, that that money is needed for. Are the Government looking at the reality for thousands of single parents? If the absent parent knows the system and is elusive enough, the parent with care might as well chuck that hundred quid out with the dirty nappies and save themselves a lot of stress. If CMEC do manage to collect child maintenance, they’ll knock off some commission: 7-12%. All of this is going to put an awful lot of parents whose children really need child maintenance off ever applying in the first place.

David Cameron thinks we “need to make Britain a genuinely hostile place for fathers who go AWOL.” These charges will make it a hostile place for the mothers who are raising their children. And ultimately and frighteningly, for the children themselves.

Gingerbread have joined force with Barnardos to try to get the government to drop the charging system. Click here to find out more, or write to your MP. I’m trying not to be apathetic and hoping we can really make them see sense on this.



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6 responses to “A genuinely hostile place

  1. You’re right, all Cameron is doing is making Britain a genuinely hostile place for single mothers and their children. I have two children and became a single mother a few months ago and have yet to get a single penny in maintenance. The fact that if I can’t manage get something off my children’s father I’m going to be charged to do so is insane. How could I afford it?! It just makes me so angry.

  2. lu

    That is the most arse about tit rule I’ve ever heard of.
    Fairplay to you mate you raise some good points.

  3. This disappoints me so much.
    My son was only a few weeks old when I read your tweets and blog about the proposed changes; in my newborn chaos I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise! I emailed my local MP, and got no response. I am currently in the midst of Child Maintenance hell, but to have to pay for the process would really add insult to injury. Some parents are plain unlucky to have a child with someone who would do anything to shirk their responsibilities; and the fact that the government aren’t doing everything in their power to correct this is a big let down.
    I’ll write again in support of all the single parents, and more importantly the children, who are likely to suffer due to this new ruling.

  4. Emily

    keep up the good work and thank you for commentng.

  5. 24601

    The alternative is that tax payers foot the bill. When the State currently borrows 1 in every 4 pounds spent, that means further burdening your child, and his children with more debt. Everything must be paid for. Must the tax payer hold the hand of all these irresponsible people for the duration of their lives? Or should we ask them to pay a small percentage towards the cost of sorting out the mess they make of their lives?

    • Emily

      Thanks again for commenting. I reckon anyone who is raising a child or children on their own takes on a huige responsibility. It takes two people to make a child and it’s really sad that one of them can just decide they don’t want to take responsibility for it. I know the state would have to pay for this, but the last thing a parent needs when they’re raising a family single-handedly is to have money from their much-needed maintenance deducted – and to have to pay for it in the first place.

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