Child support groups dismayed by U-turn

Rosie Waterhouse finds campaigners who favour making absent fathers pay are angered by decision to defer cases

Protest groups and campaigners were in disarray last night after the Government's U-turn on the workings of the Child Support Agency, which is to defer indefinitely 350,000 cases.

Most organisations condemned the abandonment of the original aim of the Child Support Act - to make errant absent parents pay for the upkeep of their children. Only one group, the Campaign Against the Child Support Act, viewed the decision as a victory for non-compliance and refusal to co-operate on a par with rebellion against the poll tax.

Calling for responsibility for maintenance assessments to return to the courts, a spokeswoman said: "The movement of single mothers, absent fathers, new partners and the children of both families is forcing the Government to change the Act by administrative decree.

"The Government must now acknowledge the single mothers' absolute right to choose whether or not to claim maintenance from the father by scrapping the Act and its hated and discredited agency."

But the National Council for One Parent Families, which was instrumental in formulating the Act, said that the announcement was a "devastating blow to all those lone parents who looked to the CSA to get the maintenance they so badly need to escape from the benefits trap".

It added: "What this essentially means is that ... fathers who have never wanted to pay any maintenance for their children can now enjoy their Christmas festivities in the knowledge that they will not be pursued.''

Demanding immediate talks with the Government, Sue Slipman, its director, said: "The CSA took on a massive caseload to appease the Treasury. It is now lone parents who will pay the price for the resulting chaos."

The council also objected to the pledge by Alistair Burt, the social security minister with responsibility for the CSA, to deal sympathetically with requests from individual lone parents. Ms Slipman said: "Once again the onus is being put back on lone parents to battle to get their maintenance. This is exactly what was wrong with the court system which the agency was set up to replace."

Mike Pimblott, co-founder of the Network Against the Child Support Act, said: "The Government has demonstrated that compliance with the law does not pay. The Government and agency are clearly continuing to chase `easy targets', the parents who have paid to look after their children and who are not errant parents." He went on: "The example set by the Government will cause further unrest and potentially put the remaining nail in the coffin for them at the next election. Had Mr Burt had the intelligence torecognise that removing all pre-1993 cases would have removed the hated retrospective nature of the Act, andreduced the CSA's overwhelming workload and allow other aspects of the Act to be repaired."

The Child Poverty Action Group said: "It has been clear for some time that the attempt to take on more than one million cases in the first year would lead to problems. In the dash for benefit savings the Government has failed to put the needs of familiesand children first.

"While this may act as a welcome reprieve for many families who have good reasons for not wishing to pursue a child maintenance application, it appears to be a panic solution to the crisis that faces the CSA, and it shows the Government has bitten off more than it can chew."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?