Child maintenance proposals 'grossly unfair'

I have received the following press release from the Centre for Separated Families:

Family separation charity, the Centre for Separated Families, has called for the government to rethink plans to increase flat rate child maintenance payments for parents on benefits, which it calls 'grossly unfair'.

Under current rules, parents on benefits are required to pay £5 per week in child maintenance. But this week, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the payment is set to rise to £7 per week. This is despite the fact that paying parents who are in receipt of benefits are classed as being single.

Commenting on the announcement, Nick Woodall, of the Centre for Separated Families said:

'Although paying parents in receipt of income related benefits have to pay the flat rate charge, no recognition of this responsibility is made in the benefits they receive.'

'Essentially, a financial responsibility is built into the child maintenance system but not into the benefits system. This anomaly not only disregards the parenting commitment of the paying parent but increases the risk of children experiencing poverty when they are in their care and the likelihood that the commitment will become unsustainable.'

'We have lobbied the government to recognise the financial responsibility of paying parents in the tax and benefits system. But, rather than tackle the problem, they have actually chosen to make it worse.'

'The government claims that the child maintenance system is getting fairer. But, for these parents, it is becoming even more unfair.'

'Of course, parents on benefits want to support their children financially just as much as everyone else, but the rules discriminate against them and it leaves them having to make some pretty tough choices about what to cut back on.'

'We call on the government to abandon this increase until it has resolved the issue of parents being classed as single when they are on benefits, even though most are providing hands on care for their children.'