"Children First" & Second Family Children: Analysis of the issues and options
by Barry Pearson
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Appendix A: Benefits

This paper analyses child support liability without reference to means-tested benefits such as Income Support.

The reasons include:

- many CSA cases (about 15%) are private, not involving benefits
- the influence of the formula on non-benefit cases extends beyond this, because a suitable formula can help other non-benefit cases come to private arrangements, in the knowledge of what would happen if they did involve the CSA
- benefit-PWCs may move off benefits in future, eg. as a result of Government programmes such as New Deal
- starting off relying on benefits is a form of benefit dependency, which is known to lead to unemployment traps and poverty traps, encourage fraud, and generally lack incentives towards socially acceptable behaviour
- it is more likely to be the PWC rather than the NRP who is on means-tested benefits, and therefore relying on means-tested benefits tends to make the 1st family children appear less important than the 2nd family children, which is unacceptable

Means-tested benefits must be seen as last-resort poverty-relief, not as the basis on which child support is designed. They can be paid as a top-up after the assessment if necessary.

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Page last updated: 13 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 1998