A fairer way to support children?(54 Posts)
There has been much talk recently regarding the planned reforms of the CSA and what that will mean for it's service users and most importantly, the children whose interests it was created to look after.
I have been thinking about this topic on and off for a few years and i think there is a fairer way to distibute the financial support needed to raise children that doesnt leave parents at the mercy of each other nor leave children without the support they are entitled to.
I have been asked to start a thread here with a view to laying out my thoughts in a way that allows others to discuss the pros and cons and the possibility of bringing something feasible to the attention of our MPs in the hope that a better system could be implemented in the future.
To start i think it would be extremely easy for the powers that be to calculate a national weekly cost of raising a child. Highly likely that this figure already exists and is recalculated annually.
Using this figure it would then be possible to divide it in two and apportion half to each parent of a child. The figure would be a national minimum that every parent would pay until/unless they were earning above a specified income threshold at which point the individual's contribution would increase according to income.
How does this get to the child? When a child is registered at birth, both parents would automatically be registered in the tax system as liable to pay a 'child tax' that would be desuctable from source, either their working salary/self employed income or their benefits if applicable.
This tax would then be redistributed (with a govt contribution if eligible) in a weekly/four weekly payment in the same way as child benefit is currently paid. I.e; into the account of the person registered to receive CB.
For parents who are in a relationship this may not seem necessary but this system would really come into it's own in the event of a relationship break down when household finances are divided.
For couples who separate this system would mean no need for arranging child maintenance, this would be an extremely important factor in the case of domestic violence or partners who have been financially abusive. No contact eould be required between the two parties as the payment would just continue to be taken from both parent's source of income and paid to the Govt. at a rate decided by the Govt and paid at a rate decised by the Govt.
It removes the opportunity for either party to harrass or abuse the other using the threat of witholding money or that of subjecting them to constant harrassment from the collection agency.
It would also mean that the parent with care could depend on a set amount coming in on a set date with no fluctuations or 'non payment' of support. It would be paid every week/4 weeks without fail and at the same rate.
It would be possible to have a variation in the payment for parents who share care so that 50/50 care would mean each parent received half of the total payment and so on for different arrangements. Both parents would get the payement to reflect the amount of physical care they provide.
There has been much mention of the difficulty in getting a child maintenance award from non resident parents who are self employed and claim to earn very little. This would no longer have an impact on the parent with care and child. They would recieve their weekly/4 weekly payment regardless of whether the NRP paid. The NRP who didnt pay their child tax would be creating a tax debt with the Govt just the same as if they didnt pay tax on their earnings and it would be the Govt who were responsible for reclaiming that debt not the PWC. A non paying parent would have NO IMPACT on the child who would get their child support without fail.
I think one of the most important points here is that this system requires equal contribution from both parents. Both parents have to pay, both parents will receive it in a rate that reflects the physical time they care for their child. If either parent doesnt pay, they owe the Govt and will be pursued by the Govt and not the other parent. Each parent bares no responsibility and has no power over whether the other parent pays, nor how much the other pays. And most importantly, the child gets the support regardless of whether a parent pays or not.
I think i've mentioned all the points i intended to but will post any more that come to me. I'm really interested in hearing any thoughts on this and ideas to tweak it and make it even better an more workable so that we may one day have something that resembles a fair system for supporting children.
morethan - yes abusive partners do that now - of course they do. It was one of the key criticisms of the child benefit changes - that it could potentially cut off the only source of independent income a woman had.
The difference is, under the scheme being proposed hear, the sahp would legally have to pay half of some pre-determined amount to the government - where would she be expected to get the money if her abusive partner refused to be her 'financial sponsor' and pay her half? Presumably she would have no choice but to take it from any limited housekeeping that she is supplied with, probably having to go without even more that she already does, in order to pay this proposed charge and feed her kids.
And I completely agree with you that everyone should support children that they have created and shouldn't be allowed to flout their responsibility - but that isn't what this thread is about - it is about whether the idea put forward by the OP is workable.
The issues I've raised are nothing to do with the principal of making absent parents pay (which I whole heartedly agree with) - they are to do with the practicalities, fall out (particularly for abused women) and un-intended consequences (big brother style bank account monitoring) of the OPs proposed scheme.
I thought HMRC can already use their powers for checking bank accounts etc if they suspect tax evasion or fraud? How else do they catch people?
I actually think this is a better solution for parents who have a self employed NRP as they will have more control over HMRC being able to find money NRP claims not to have.
I think the main idea is to cut out CSA to stop the bickering many couples get into over it, which usually sparks NRP to hide assets to punish the RP.
I think encouraging NRP to be on PAYE is the way to go - more control over to the system. Maybe self employed NRP should have a special charge yearly to pay for the trouble they cause HMRC? NRP's should also have passports revoked if they earn minimum wage or under, as they are not likely to be able to afford a holiday and working abroad is another way to avoid tax/money in the system to chase for maintenance. That would also attract a social stigma, which I think is needed in the case of an NRP claiming to be on minimum wage purely to avoid paying maintenance. None of their friends at the pub will think it so funny when they can't go on the piss in Amsterdam that year...
Bloomin I do think that this would cover far more people than the few RP who happen to have remarried to an abusive husband but can still be a SAHM... That must be a fairly small percentage compared to the 3/5 RP who currently don't receive any benefit at all!
So people earning minimum wage aren't allowed a passport! Would you include benefit claimants within that bracket?
Fundamentally setting things up in a tax efficient, therefore CM avoidance efficient way is not illegal.
If 3/5 of rp's get nothing that's a different point to saying they don't get enough because the NRP has structured things in an 'efficient' way.
Also what would happen if NRP unintentionally lost their job and need to retrain? This wouldn't be a case of won't pay more a case of can't pay and there is a fundamental difference. In that situation would you offset previous overpayments from the basic amount? That would only be
I think it should be used especially if NRP has been hard to get money out of at all - why would you need a passport if you can't afford to leave the country? If you can you should have to declare how you are funding it. This is only for NRP who are paying minimum to RP for maintenance. If they move over to PAYE then they can have their passport back.
Silly's system is better than what we currently have IMO. I think it covers more angles and would cut out the middle man.
Lion - AFAIK HMRC can only check bank accounts if they have good reason to think you are avoiding tax or defrauding CTC/WTC - if you are PAYE, or don't earn at all and don't complete a self assessment, don't claim tax credits, they would have no powers to check bank accounts. If a system like this was introduced, it would have to be backed up with legislation that allows the government to check anyone's bank account simply because they have children.
Also wrt saying "well it's only the minority" doesn't explain how it would be policed for that minority (nor make it right)? How do you envisage that the charge would be enforced for that minority of women? Would they be sent to prison for not paying the charge?
This country is full of systems where we try to do the best for the majority, not the minority. Rightly or wrongly. If this saves the poorest single parent families in the country from being on the brink, I think it is worth it. It could make a vast improvement for the poorest.
I had thought we all agreed the self employed NRP's were those draining the current system dry and making it fee paying for the PAYE. I think giving HMRC more control over them, NOT PAYE (who can be made to pay direct anyway) would be met with approval and if the NRP has nothing to hide they would welcome it.
Bloomin out of interest, if an NRP who is self employed married someone on PAYE, would HMRC be able to see their joint accounts if they found them to be suspicious?
I am sorry for a universal "child tax" or whatever you choose to call it will be an absolutely firm no.
State should get be getting out of people's lives, not get further into them.
Sounds rather complex. How would it work in situations like ours where our court order says whoever the children live with I pay 5 sets of school/university fees or where one of the couple earns very little and the other huge sums and where before separation and after with the resident parent the children have a high income lifestyle?
As the state does everything badly and there is more than enough state interference in lives as it stands it is probably the exact opposite of what some of us would like to see.
Just been thinking about the assertion that a NRP should have their passport revoked. It is utterly ludicrous.
People seem to get their wires crossed. The initial suggestion was that a minimum amount be calculated and paid for by both parents as an additional tax. Any such amount would need to take into account the legal minimum wage in this country and be calculated accordingly. This somehow gets spun into your passport being taken off if you earn minimum wage!!
Earning a low income and hiding your income are two different things. If you blend the two it will end up having dire consequences for some families.
Would you police what jobs people are allowed to take?
What about a situation where the NRP takes a job so his new partner can also work and so that they can juggle childcare between them- assume that job is lower paid than another job he was offered but it works better for his new family - he might only be able to pay this fictional minimum sum in this case - what would you do then?
Lion - If systems are introduced for the majority then this is a no go anyway. The majority of children (65%) live with both parents. That plus the 2/5 of NRP's who do pay mean we are discussing setting up a massively complex, expensive and intrusive system that effects everyone with a child to deal with a minority.
I like your idea of making self employed people use PAYE and having an additional charge on their self assessment if they don't - although not your passport removal idea.
Actually, thinking about it, a much simpler solution would be that if the NRP refuses to pay up / doesn't earn enough etc, then the state make up the shortfall and then persue the NRP for it for the rest of their lives.
For example - it is decided that the minimum amount to support a child, based on nmw is £50 a week (obviously for nrp's who earn more, the amount they are expected to pay would be higher but £50 is the absolute minimum an RP can expect, regardless of circumstance). NRP loses their job or makes a loss on their business so can only afford £5 per week. The state make up the rest with the shortfall accruing against the nrp who has to pay it back when they are earning again. Any shortfall sits on their credit record as a debt.
This would ensure that the RP is paid and removes the incentive to 'fiddle the books' until the child is 18 because the debt would never die. Having it on a credit record would also be a very real sanction.
Bloomin thank you, you seem to get it and the minimal impact this would have on real NRP's lives.
ranc you miss it and again seem to be standing up for exactly the people the current system 'protects' by saying *People seem to get their wires crossed. The initial suggestion was that a minimum amount be calculated and paid for by both parents as an additional tax. Any such amount would need to take into account the legal minimum wage in this country and be calculated accordingly. This somehow gets spun into your passport being taken off if you earn minimum wage!!
Earning a low income and hiding your income are two different things. If you blend the two it will end up having dire consequences for some families.
Would you police what jobs people are allowed to take? *
I want NRP who earn minimum or less to forgoe their ability to leave the country at the drop of a hat. Your rant here says no more than you don't think this shouLd happen but backs it up with nothing. WHY?
Can we nBoffin can we not assume for a second that NRP who are self employed have to agree/sign a waiver that as an NRP their accounts are subject to certain HMRC checks with or without their approval?
Apologies for typo on way to nursery and fingers apparently fatter than normal!
ranc I am adding to Silly's idea, nothing else. Someone pointed out that it did little to curtail the serial offender (Self Employed) and so I thought some suggestions wouldn't go amiss. You seem particularly offended. Would you care to explain why?
Actually Boffin the making up the shortfall idea sounds better, but this is massively reliant on NRP admitting to this figure, not changing it and dying in this country. I actually think this could cost more to police than the current provisions CSA have to repossess cars, etc? But thinking again could be added a a debt recover al on their IHT?
Lion - do you mean my idea?
It wouldn't cost anymore to police, because there are similar systems in place already - it's the same principal as student loans .
Couple splits up - RP puts in a claim for child support. NRP completes assessment to determine how much is due (using the same set up SLC use to determine how much loan a student is entitled to by assessing the parents).
The Child Support Company then pay the assessed amount each month to the RP accruing the debt against the NRP. NRP either then has the money taken from source if they are PAYE (like former students do now), a minimal amount from benefits or pay directly if they are self employed.
Those who are self employed who choose not to pay can do so, however, the RP still gets their money, the debt sits on the NRP's credit file, and I wouldn't, in the case of self employed NRP's see any problem in the debt accruing interest either.
Like student loans, there would be a minimum earnt before the full amount needs to be paid, but it would be NMW rather than £21k and the debt would not be wiped after 30 years. If an NRP manages to avoid paying, then it will eventually be taken out of their state pension, plus they may struggle to get credit. There would be absolutely no incentive for the NRP to avoid paying as not doing so would have a negative impact on their lives forever if they do.
They also can't use not paying as a way to 'get back' or 'punish' the RP as they get their money anyway.
The only time this would fall down is if the NRP left the country, but we already have ways to recover money from expats and even if we couldn't get the money back from them, the interest gained within the scheme could be put towards a 'slush fund' so that RP's whose former parnters leave the country permanently still get paid.
Only getting back to read this thread now. Thank you all for comments, all very valid concerns.
Bloomin i like your idea and as you say, it is pretty much already in place, the only thing that would change would be that the CSA pay the CM reliably regardless of whether NRP pays or not. Far simpler than my suggestion but same outcome. I think you're onto it with this one!
Now how do we get the CSA to give unsecured credit to proven non payers?
Hahaha! I love it Silly - the entire rest of the country and commercial world is happy to give them credit, just not CSA 'Cos they is clearly the movers and shakers!
Yes Bloomin your idea. Credit to it, it is a simple one and a good one . NRP completes assessment to determine how much is due (using the same set up SLC use to determine how much loan a student is entitled to by assessing the parents).
I've never had a loan or any type of credit, so could you talk me through this one please? How do they assess the parents, esp if one has left the marital home?
I can't see how you can justify taking someone's passport of them just because they earn the minimum wage or less.
The amount payable would have to be calculated using the NMW as its starting threshold- if someone is working they legally they are allowed to earn that sum. So how can you then say its not enough 'we're taking your passport'
There are 2 different points (I) those who lie/hide their income and (2) those who don't earn very much.
The 2 should not be treated the same.
With reference to the suggestion that the debt will accrue, will that also apply to RP's who don't work or could earn more but don't?
How would you police which jobs NRP's take to make sure they reach their maximum earning potential and don't pay the minimum.
Finally the intimation that I am a self employed person hiding my income is laughable. Dh pays maintenance for his son but he's PAYE so this is all irrelevant to us anyway.
The idea sounds like a good one but once you drill down into the nitty gritty it's not actually going to work.
Why would it apply to RP's? Their contribution is not in question, there is no payment for them to make, so why would debt need to accrue?
You wouldn't police what job NRPs take - if they choose to limit their earnings to pay the minimum then that is their lookout - yes, their children would only get the minimum determined amount, but they would also be limiting their own income.
If they are self employed and only claiming to be making the bear minimum or a loss so that only minimum debts accrue but they are suspected of earning more, then they would actually be committing tax evasion, so could be pursued under that legislation.
*There are 2 different points (I) those who lie/hide their income and (2) those who don't earn very much.
The 2 should not be treated the same. *
Sadly for the self employed NRP they do seem to be the same. More often than most would care to imagine. I don't see anyone else complaining about this - if NRP and SE and earning minimum wage, they should have to prove how they are funding a trip abroad. It's not rocket science.
Anyway, we have somewhat moved on.
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