Single mothers 'threatened with cuts in benefits'
The recent Child Support Act requires single parent claimants to name the absent partner so that attempts can be made to recover maintenance payments in full. Provisions of the legislation, which enables social security staff to dock the benefits of claimants who do not co-operate, come into effect next April.
However, Gingerbread, the single parents' support group, has received calls daily over the past two months from women who say they are already being threatened with benefit cuts.
Inquiries received by the organisation's telephone helpline about the rights of unmarried parents have more than doubled since April. The sharp increase reflects widespread confusion about new legislation among claimants and benefits' officials alike, according to Mary Honeyball, Gingerbread's chief executive.
'Our research shows that one in three single mothers fears violence from her ex-partner, yet we can see that women are not being given the protection and privacy to which they are entitled,' Ms Honeyball said. 'Attempts to reduce the benefits bill by extracting maintenance payments from fathers are putting women at risk.'
Groups representing single parents feared, during the passage of the child support legislation through Parliament, that state payments would be cut routinely from claimants refusing to name the absent parent without proof that they would risk violence for disclosing the name.
Alistair Burt, Under-Secretary for Social Security, confirmed last month, however, that the Government was planning to take a less stringent approach. Corroborative evidence of a risk of violence or undue distress would be 'welcome, but not essential', he told the Commons on 22 June.
Staff are required to question single parent claimants in a 'discreet and sensitive' manner, according to the regulations. But those who refuse to disclose names without giving any good reason still face losing benefit of up to pounds 8.50 a week.
The Department of Social Security confirmed yesterday that lone parents were not required at present to name the absent parent. 'If Gingerbread passes to us the details of where these threats have been made, we will certainly look into them,' a spokeswoman said.
The second largest increase in telephone requests for help received by Gingerbread concerned difficulties with getting grants. Holidays for disabled children, and grants for further education courses and school uniforms have been cut in many areas because of pressure on council budgets.
interviewThe producer and activist, Trudie Styler, whose film 'Filth' is up for five film awards, is tapping into the industry's neglected female talent
musicBlack Sabbath have pulled off one of rock music’s great comebacks – against all odds
theatreTheatre's hitmaker Daniel Evans on 'Oliver' and bringing 'The Full Monty' to the stage
interviewHer estate has become the nation's glossiest food empire
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
travelFor broadcaster Mishal Husain, a long-haul Club Med holiday was a chance for her family to explore its sense of 'zen' and 'animation'
food + drinkFestive snacks don't have to be fiddly, says Bill Granger
Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
Ja Rule forced to deny leaving wife for prison cell mate
Nelson Mandela: 11 inspirational quotes to live your life by
Ryanair calls on CAA to act over air traffic chaos caused by telephone system glitch
Crash pilot who threatened Ukip leader Nigel Farage found dead
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail
- < Previous
- Next >
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Server Side De...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# ASP.NET Developer (...
£60000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# WPF .NET Dev...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Manual Tester FX Trading Platform/Derivative...