Letter: Women's poverty, absent fathers and children's needs

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article (7 December) on the report by the Social Security Select Committee into the workings of the Child Support Agency (CSA) conforms to the views of the rest of the national press in focusing sympathy on 'absent parents' who 'ought not to be reduced to penury'. It seems that the moment not-badly-off husbands are forced to contribute a reasonable amount towards their children all hell breaks loose. Would that so much attention were paid to the needs of women and children living in poverty]

Given the hysterical reaction that has greeted the initial work of the CSA, and the consequent suggestions that its powers be reduced, one can only wish that the 'left-of-centre, middle-class feminists' you credit with 'distorting' the agency's role (by giving it genuinely effective powers) had been more successful in changing the climate of opinion in which it would have to operate.

The Child Support Act is not without grave faults, not least that women on income support do not gain from paternal contributions. The Government must develop support for women to enable them to come off income support, and fathers must remember that having children is a costly business.

Yours sincerely,


Bindman and Partners (solicitors)

London, NW1

7 December