CSA MARK II (C-MEC) SHOWS GOVERNMENT'S CONTEMPT FOR CHILDREN
The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill - setting out the Government's plans for replacing the CSA - will have its second reading in the House of Commons today. We predict that C-MEC will fail as surely as the CSA failed, and for most of the same reasons.
The CSA failed because its purpose was to maximise the amount of money extracted by the Treasury from non-resident parents, with no regard for either fairness or for the welfare of children. Instead of helping children to maintain a good relationship with both their parents, the CSA drove a wedge between parents, making it harder for a non-resident parent to be a good parent. Not many children want to see their parents relationship worsen, but John Hutton delights in a system that achieves this.
Who can defend a system which insists that - even when both parents share care equally - one of them still has to make payments to the other so-called resident parent? But if they each have the child for 50% of the time, why is this money more likely to be of benefit to the child with one parent than with the other? As we have seen last week, a father (Michael Cox) can be jailed for refusing to pay under these circumstances, even though such payments would offer no benefit to the child. The system operates purely as a punitive levy on non-resident parents.
Sadly, the Government will be proud to continue this tradition, and more, with the CSA successor C-MEC.
We hoped the new C-MEC might show some new thinking or ideas designed to correct this farcical situation. But, C-MEC is no more than a cynical rehash of ideas and principles that failed the first time around.
This Government clearly lacks the vision to diverge from the simplistic solutions offered by its own spin. Their childish blame culture - "The CSA isn't working - it must be dads fault, let's come down on them like a ton of bricks; let's have more laws, more fines, more punitive solutions. That'll show 'em!" will get us nowhere.
If they truly cared about the needs of children, more than their need to make cheap political capital, they would ask "Why is this not working?" and "How can we set up a system that will most benefit the children of separated parents?".
For without asking these questions they are wasting their time and frittering away years from the lives of children they are supposed to be helping.
Their mantra of "Resident Parent Good - Non-Resident Parent Bad" clearly does not hold true when there are hundreds of thousands of separated fathers who want to be better parents to their children, but are prevented from doing so without good reason. Are these the same parents who are not paying?
Is it just possible most children would benefit more from an extra evening a week with their father, than from another five pounds extracted from his salary?
Their refusal to look at a failed system afresh demonstrates nothing more than contempt for the children of separated parents. Whether this is due to their ignorance, cynical politicking, or straightforward arrogance doesn't really make a lot of difference.
It is the children who will suffer, as usual.