Agenda for the 21st Century
All child support paid should become extra income for the children's household.
This contrasts with the existing law that a lone parent claiming Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance (income based) must apply for child support maintenance via the CSA (unless there are special, and rare circumstances). This law exists because in those cases the government reduces social security expenditure according to the amount of child support paid, and so the compulsion exists to ensure this saving is made.
Why no Treasury saving?
A counter argument is that if there is Treasury saving for Income Support cases, then if those parents start working at least 16 hours per week, the child support will become fully available to them. Hence it is an incentive for those parents to start working at least 16 hours per week (which is a good thing of the children are older). I believe this counter argument fails for the following reasons:
Why no state compulsion?
State compulsion is known in many cases to cause damage to already strained relationships, to the detriment of both parents and the children. Examples include:
If the Treasury savings or other advantages out-weighed the social ills caused by the compulsory state-interference in the lives of separated families, then the argument may be difficult to make. But, year by year, the number of cases in which the state has an actual financial benefit from compulsion reduces. As shown below, under the reformed scheme it will become perhaps about 18% of cases, with perhaps a further 19% of cases where the case will be compulsory but in fact there will be no actual Treasury saving.
2 (connected) factors have changed dramatically since the CSA was first proposed, and both are socially beneficial:
Now, it is time to accept the switch entirely, and cease the corrosive compulsion remaining in a proportion of cases. Note that the proportion of CSA cases that are benefit cases does not show how many CSA cases started as benefit cases. About 73% start as benefit cases, then many of those become private cases later when the parent with care gets back to work. Often, the case is a benefit case for only a small proportion of its life, but by that time the damage has been done, and at the most fragile time in the new (separated) relationship between the parents.
Implementation would be easy! (It is only the decision to do this that needs work). It is initially simply a matter of removing Income Support and Job Seeker's Allowance (income based) from the list of benefits that trigger CSA cases. Eventually it might involve removing the option of compulsion from the law, but that requires a bit (not much) more work.
Although Treasury savings would be reduced a little, the move would probably be welcomed by all informed lobby groups and citizens, with none of them dissenting. And there is evidence from elsewhere that reducing the Treasury saving increases the compliance, hence improving the outcomes for the children.
The diagram below shows approximately what would happen if the cases at May 2002 were all moved across to the reformed scheme without phasing. (Some simplifying assumptions were made).
The diagram below shows the way that CSA cases shift from being benefits cases to being private cases during their lifetime. (Some simplifying assumptions were made).
Claimed reply on a CSA form:
|Page last updated: 17 December, 2003||© Copyright Barry Pearson 2003|