Text Box: Text Box: "ABSENT dads are warned today they must pay for their children or be treated as "quasi-criminals". Under tough new plans leaked to the Mirror those who duck out of child maintenance could be tagged, made to surrender their passports, forced to labour in public and be barred from running their own firms"
"The measures, drawn up by the Department of Work and Pensions, are so far-ranging some civil servants have warned they are too severe without safeguards to protect rights".
"Documents seen by the Mirror state: "Ideas the DWP is exploring are removal of passports, disqualification from becoming a company director and restrictions on liberty such as unpaid work or electronically-monitored curfews as alternatives to prison. Also mentioned is a proposed new statutory requirement to provide information to the agency within a specified time.
"But in a memo to Home Secretary Charles Clarke leading civil servants warn: "We should sound a cautionary note." They say there should be a "proportionate" balance between the seriousness of offence and the penalty. They also add there is a need to recognise "criminal safeguards may be necessary where sanctions impose quasi-criminal penalties". This would mean giving parents the right of appeal before they are punished as well as the chance to appear before special courts".
19th November 2005

Lack of logic from Polly Toynbee
In a bizarre rant in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee has done little more than re-state the principles behind the revised CSA. Instead of saying something new and constructive, she echoed what ministers were saying several years ago. Here are extracts from her article:
"Every father should be forced to hand over 15% of his income direct to the mother from the day they split".
Baroness Hollis said in The Times on 4th January 2000: "Child support payments should be regarded as a statutory tax on fatherhood, and not a voluntary contribution. ... absent fathers had to get into the habit of making child support payments as soon as they become liable. ... MPs will be provided with ready reckoners which they will be able to use to tell people at a glance how much child support they will have to pay or how much they are due".
The devil is in the details. Polly Toynbee has largely ignored the known problems of making that happen. If she had the responsibility for designing the process and legislation to make her "proposal" viable, she would probably end up repeating much of the current system!
"The Liberal Democrat MP David Laws finds that the CSA collects only £1.85 for every £1 it spends. A simpler system that lets men pay less has perversely led to even more non-payers"
About one-third of NRPs are liable to pay more, not less, under the new scheme. The mean liability at the moment is higher under the new scheme (£25) than the old scheme (£19).
But behind the cost of collecting each £ is the fact that perhaps 45% of NRPs in the new scheme earn no more than £100 per week! On average, the NRPs in the CSA earn less than the national average manual wage. Often, the money is simply not there to be had. Much of the time, the CSA simply moves bits of poverty around!
The non-paying is largely because the CSA is the most administratively incompetent government agency in living memory, and Polly Toynbee hasn't identified how to improve that.
"So why not force every man automatically to pay 15% of his income weekly direct to the mother from the day they split or he fathers a child? ... If he has paid nothing when they eventually catch up with him, he should get the sort of walloping fine that means he may lose his car or home, even if he has a second family"
1. Before a child support case can become legally viable, the following tasks are needed: ensure that the child actually exists; ensure that the man identified is the father of the child; and ensure that the father is responsible in law for paying child support for the child. A proportion of child support claims do not satisfy these criteria, for example one-sixth of paternity tests administered by the CSA are negative. Any system for child support must satisfy these checks before executing a case in earnest.
2. If the PWC is on benefits, only up to £10 "belongs" to her, (assuming "her" for conciseness). More precisely, all the child support belongs to her, but her benefits get reduced. Unless/until the government changes this policy, the benefits system must be formally involved.
3. The CSA is not the only way that child support is paid. It is the method used either if the PWC is on benefits, or if either parent wants to use it. If the PWC is not on benefits, and the parents have a working arrangement, (which may be more or less than 15%), the problems of the CSA discussed by Polly Toynbee are irrelevant. That is why CSA cases involve claims, not automatic liability from some arbitrary date.
4. How would it be judged whether the NRP has paid the money? It was a well-known problem of the old scheme that NRPs sometimes ended up paying twice, because they could not prove that any money they paid was actually for child support, and not for other purposes. A formal way of distinguishing child support payments is needed.
"Having no reminder is no excuse for not having a TV or car license"
But having no TV or no car is a pretty good "excuse"! The key is that the liability is triggered by a verifiable condition, and there are respective agencies that administer whether those conditions are true. TV licensing is based on a database of houses, on the initial assumption that everyone has a TV, then there are detector vans as a final check. The existence of all cars, and who is responsible for them, is held in a database. Where is the database of who is responsible for every child at any time? The fact that one-sixth of paternity tests administered by the CSA are negative suggests that often no one actually knows who the father is.
Liability for child support starts at about the time of the claim, not when it has been fully processed. A large part of the problems of the CSA are getting to the stage of verifying the triggering conditions, (described earlier). Another part of the problem is that the CSA often doesn't use the powers that it already has. For various offenses, confiscation of driving licenses, fines, and other financial penalties, are already options. Deductions from earnings can be made.
"Work out the extra cost of men to the state in crime, violence, car crashes and non-payment of maintenance, and tax all men the way insurance companies price high-risk groups regardless of individual qualities"
Polly Toynbee is revealing her true colours! Blatently sexist, of course. Haven't we made progress beyond criticising and penalising groups for the behvaiour of some of those groups? Now which groups can we blame for terrorism ...? Which for inner-city gun crime ...? Dealing crack ...? Shoplifting ...? Misattributed paternity ...? Paternity fraud ...? Infanticide ...?
"On average, women have one fewer child than they want, because their lives are too hard. That is sad. And we need more babies"
We need fewer babies in the world. We especially need fewer babies likely to be brought up in one-parent households. There are plenty of people willing to come to the UK to make up numbers. And when we get the next generation of male contraceptives, the number of babies may fall even further.
Guardian, "Get out of the Spiderman suits and start paying for your children", Polly Toynbee

Rounded Rectangle: Sexist Ministers

All About the Fathers. Where is the Mention About Absent Mothers?

Equal Rights Seem To Have Disappeared For Some Strange Reason