CSA rule changes proposed

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The Independent Online
A new "tough but tender" approach to lone parents to halt fraud while ensuring that absent partners pay maintenance was called for yesterday by a cross-party committee of MPs, writes Nicholas Timmins.

The latest proposals for shaking up the Child Support Agency include requiring lone parents to fill in a maintenance application form when they sign on for the first time. Those who refuse without good cause should face an immediate benefit penalty, the Commons Social Security Committee said, just days after ministers have doubled the penalty to 40 per cent of the personal allowance - almost pounds 20 a week - and extended it to three years.

After six months, those hit by the penalty, and those whose claim that they risk violence from an absent partner has been accepted, should be re- visited, the committee said.

8 Fourth Report, Social Security Committee, Session 1995-96; HMSO; pounds 13.60