Ahead of today’s debate in the House of Lords for the consideration of Commons amendments on the Welfare Reform Bill
Release Date: 14 Feb 2012
Barnardo’s Assistant Director of Policy and Research Neera Sharma said:
It is unacceptable that the poorest lone parents will be forced to pay ongoing charges on the child maintenance that they receive.
In reality this means that Government will end up taking back nearly a fifth of the money collected in fees in the first year, a deduction that will hit deprived families the hardest.
Whilst we welcome the Government’s decision to lower the upfront charge on those accessing the new child maintenance system to £20, the separate ongoing charges to be levied on claimants will severely impact the budgets of low-income households.
The Government has a duty to ensure that the basic needs of vulnerable children are protected and we urge them to exempt the very poorest families from having to regularly sacrifice a proportion of what little of they have through these charges.
Notes to Editors
This press notice and the proposed changes to the child maintenance system in the context of the Welfare Reform Bill apply to the UK
For case studies or interviews with spokespersons please contact Corinne Scotland, Media Officer on 0208 498 7634
Barnardo’s is supportive of amendment 73C, tabled by Baroness Butler-Sloss, which would prevent separated parents who care for children from being charged ongoing fees for using the statutory child maintenance service. Barnardo’s believes the implementation of this amendment would protect many of the most vulnerable children from some of the worst effects of the Government’s policy.
On calculations: £20 spread over the year in upfront charges is 38p per week. Plus 84p (12%) of £7 = total charge: £1.22 a week. These calculations are applicable for the first year of collecting maintenance and are made using the minimum £7 per week single parents on benefits are entitled to. With these calculations, single parents claiming maintenance could end up receiving only £5.78, after the up front fee and 12% levied on each payment is applied, and so would lose £63 over the course of the first year.
Proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill initially included fees to be levied on all parents claiming maintenance including upfront charges of up to £100 (£50 for those on benefits) and ongoing fees of up to 12 per cent on each payment collected. However, on Wednesday 1 February the Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller announced new intentions to charge all applicants a reduced upfront fee of £20. No changes were made to the amount set for ongoing fees.