The Queen's Speech: Offenders ignoring court orders will lose all benefits

WELFARE

REFORMS TO rework the Child Support Agency and remove benefits from offenders were condemned by professional bodies yesterday as unfair, retrograde and counterproductive.

Following through on its "tough and tender" stance on welfare, the Government has promised changes to the much-criticised CSA, further pension reforms, including a state second pension and a measure designed to withdraw benefits from offenders who fail to comply with community sentences imposed by the courts.

In the Bill on welfare reform the Government has promised to replace the existing complex formula the CSA uses to determine maintenance payments with a simple system of percentage rates based on the absent parent's net income. If parents try to delay the process, new penalties will be available to ensure compliance.

There will also be powers to ensure assessment cannot be unnecessarily delayed by disputes over paternity, allowing presumptions of parentage where an absent parent refuses a DNA test, or refuses to accept the positive outcome of a test.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors, said the new method of calculating child support payments would make the system even more unfair than it is and called for its abolition.

"The Child Support Agency has failed and no amount of tinkering will solve the many problems that have dogged the organisation," said Kamlesh Bahl, president of the Law Society.

"It is time to stop tinkering with the CSA and go back to the court-based system which was more effective and fairer."

The Government also proposes to reform the state earnings related pension scheme (Serps) by way of a state second pension.

This will ensure people with a lifetime of working or caring behind them, and certain disabled people with broken work records, would retire on a pension higher than means-tested benefits.

"Replacing Serps with a new second state pension will be ineffective because it will be decades before any meaningful change is noticeable," said Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on social security. "Pensioner poverty is an issue which exists now and this Bill does nothing to address that problem."

In one of the most controversial moves the new Bill will allow for the withdrawal or reduction of benefit entitlement from offenders who fail to comply with community sentences imposed by the courts. The measure will be piloted in parts of England and Wales to test the links between social security offices and the Probation Service, and to assess the behavioural impact on offenders.

The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders condemned the new measures. "The plan to withdraw welfare benefits from offenders who fail to obey court orders is retrograde and counter-productive," said Paul Cavadino, director of the asssociation. "It makes no sense as a way of tackling crime. Plunging offenders further into poverty must increase the temptation to commit theft, burglary or street robbery, so damaging, not improving, community safety."

The National Association of Probation Officers added its voice to concerns. "It is extremely difficult to envisage the withdrawal of benefits from those who breach orders either enhancing public protection or reducing crime," said Harry Fletcher, its spokesman.

Cherry Norton

Social Affairs Correspondent

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have the right attitude,...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn