Reform package for CSA

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The Government today emphasised its determination to advance further into territory which has already proved fraught with hazards - welfare reform.

The Government today emphasised its determination to advance further into territory which has already proved fraught with hazards - welfare reform.

It promised a Bill to reform the workings of the much-criticised Child Support Agency (CSA); further pension reforms, including a State Second Pension; and a measure designed to link benefit payments to compliance with community sentences imposed by the courts.

On child support, the new Bill will provide for the replacement of 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.

Where parents seek to delay the process, new penalties will be available to ensure compliance.

There will also be powers to ensure assessment cannot not 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.

At the weekend Prime Minister Tony Blair explained the reasoning behind the reforms, saying in an interview: "We cannot have taxpayers as a whole ending up having to pay large sums of money out to help families in circumstances where their fathers don't have any sense of responsibility."

On pension reform, a new Bill will reform the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (Serps) by way of a State Second Pension.

This will ensure that 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.

The 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 various 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.

Welfare reform has already proved a major headache for the Government.

Its previous Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill only made it on to the statute book last week after a series of rebellions in the Commons and the Lords over plans to cut incapacity benefit.

Comments