Friday, February 29, 2008

On Deaf Ears?

Families Need Fathers has written a letter to Alistair Darling regarding the 2008 Budget. In it, they draw attention to three areas:

The tax system: They state that it is "unfair and unrealistic" that both Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit assume that only one parent needs to be given financial support after a relationship breaks down, as: "Only in a minority of cases is only one parent involved in bringing up a child after separation. It is much more typical that both parents are involved, and necessarily they both incur costs... Both Credits need to reflect these social realities, by allocating the financial benefit pro rata to the genuine parenting costs incurred by each parent".

The benefit system: For the same reasons they consider it unfair that the holder of the Child Benefit book is viewed by the Department for Work and Pensions (and the Child Support Agency) as the 'primary carer' of a child for benefit purposes: "Child benefit should be allocated equitably and only then should it operate as a passport to other benefits."

Court administration: Interestingly, and perhaps controversially, they propose that family law cases should not be eligible for legal aid: "This only serves to strengthen the adversarial culture which splits up children from their parents after divorce and separation". They also point out that the recent fee increases "have placed an unreasonable burden on many applicants, who are going through a highly stressful experience and are often among the financially excluded".

Some very good points, including some I've made here before, but I'm afraid I don't expect the Chancellor to pay much attention.

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