Thursday, February 17, 2011

Strengthening families, the future of child maintenance

Any MP will know that a large part of their constituency mailbox will be problems associated with the CSA.  This organisation has been failing children and families for a long time.  Currently there are extensive problems with the IT system which upgrades have not solved.  The current consultation by the DWP provides an opportunity for single parents to have a say in shaping the future of the CSA.  The consultation paper can be found here

Whilst I am broadly in agreement with the aims of the Green Paper which wishes to strengthen the ability of families to make their own arrangements.  I am concerned that there appears to be little legal redress proposed to "back up" the arrangements made between parents.  One of the many failures of the last Labour Government was its failure to act upon the Law Commission report number 307 which outlined the problems caused by failing to give legal protection to those who are cohabiting.  For the full report see

If real meaningful action is to be taken, then it is vital that the gaps identified by the Law Commission are acted upon.  To fail to do so will have the consequence that many families and children will continue to suffer from inequality causing a rise in dependence on the state.

At present Gingerbread the lone parent charity are looking for the views of single parents who are dealing with the CSA to join their campaign and have your say click here  In particular there is a proposal to charge for collecting child maintenance.  This has the capacity to hit those who can least afford it the hardest, and I shall be working together with Gingerbread and other lone parent organisations to oppose charges for parents with care of their children.

My own experience of the CSA can be described as a "nightmare".  Slow and unaccountable, lengthy failures to take enforcement, rewards those who lie, lacking the appropriate powers for the self employed and those owning their own businesses, with gaping holes in its remit.  I shall be responding to the consultation personally and I would encourage others to do so by the 7th April.