As the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed, we are hosting a new app on Mumsnet - Sorting out Separation from the Department for Work & Pensions, here.
Aimed at couples who are considering or going through divorce or separation, the app offers tools, services and links to organisations offering support, including Mumsnet. It's part of the DWP's Help and support for separated families' programme. This app is aimed at separated couples and parents who wish to work together to sort out issues like child maintenance and access arrangements, avoiding statutory child maintenance schemes where possible. Obviously it won't be right for everyone though, for example in cases where domestic violence or abuse (including coercion or control) has taken place or is ongoing, when the statutory route.) may be preferred.
The app is very much a work in progress, and the DWP tell us they would welcome feedback on how the web app could be improved, so please do take a look and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your thoughts on this thread.
Mumsnet isn't taking any payment for hosting this app; we're involved with it because we think that if separating parents are going to be signposted towards non-governmental sources, Mumsnet will be a great place for them to find peer to peer support and advice.
The government seem to think single parents have the IQ and common sense of a fucking peanut. I did everything on their lists just fine and didn't need my hand held.
Seeing as they are going to take maintenance money off me every month because my ex was abusive I refuse to beleive they give a shiny shit about family breakdown. Although if they fancy going to my XP and asking nicely if he would pay mainenance without involving the CSA then I'll call the police for them when he threatens them.
The only thing I would accept them as caring about family breakdown would be FREE Relate services and FREE counselling on the NHS (which possibly would have helped my ex).
A few drop down lists and links to phone numbers aren't worth a thing.
It's patronising window-dressing to try to help justify the decision to charge for the CSA. "Oh, well, if separating parents could only co-operate then they won't need the CSA so it doesn't matter that it's charged for."
So as the Government will effectively be taking money out of the hands of my children for their poor choice in having an unreliable loser for a mother, I'd rather not be patronised by the DWP on top of deliberately being made poorer.
Oh, and please also tell the DWP that their attempt to jump on the "app" bandwagon makes them loop rather stupid when it becomes instantly obvious that, er, it's a web page, not an app. All (misguided) style, no substance. Sums it up really.
Agree with what has been said already. What the hell has the department for work and pensions got to do with family breakdown?! Why do they even think it is acceptable to ask such intimate questions? Where is the research to support their advice? I NEVER trust anything which does not cite sources.
If I had read this after being left by my abusive ex rather than seeking help through the children's centres this govt have now destroyed I absolutely dread to think what would have happened to my children and I.
Don't even get me started on the CSA charges either. I have done without money from my ex for 7 years because every private arrangement we have he just doesn't pay and now we have had to go to CSA he has paid nothing since march and ended up having a doe order to try and get something, he is now threatening to quit his job to avoid it so please you arrogant idiots can you tell me more about how children do better when parents work well together because I'm sure by telling me that, having already spent 7 years running myself into the ground trying to help someone who raped and abused me to be some kind of parent, my ex will suddenly decide to care about his children more than himself.
I've gone through the not at all an "app" a few times now. Here's what immediately sprang to mind:
In the initial questions, I said I was a father suffering from DV. It primarily pointed me to the National Domestic Violence Helpline, an organisation that resolutely only talks to women, not men. Thanks for not caring that you're directing people to organisations that will refuse to help them, DWP!
I then tried again leaving out the DV but otherwise based on my circumstances at the time of separation from my ex. In the "app" there seems to be an implicit assumption that as I'm a father, I'd be the one paying child maintenance. Eg the links to pages on dad.info and separateddads.co.uk for information regarding the CSA are written from the point of view of a male NRP paying maintenance. Thanks for the prejudice, DWP!
I then tried again, this time acting as a woman rather than a man but otherwise with exactly the same responses. The difference in links provided was curious. Many more links to Gingerbread as a woman than as a man (why? Gingerbread supports both male and female lone parents), plus links to the (excellent) resources on the websites of Resolution and the Centre for Separated Families, none of which I saw when I represented myself as a man when instead I was pretty much exclusively linked to dad.info or FNF. Why the disparity?
Also I note that responding as a woman, I was presented with links to mumsnet's own page on mediation. As a man, I wasn't (even though the page itself, and the information it links to, is very good, non-gender specific and produced in conjunction with dad.info). Thanks for the sexism, DWP!
In short, the results seem curiously biassed depending on whether the user is a man or a woman. Why is that?
Finally, you could replace the entire "app" with a big link to Gingerbread and/or the Centre for Separated Familes and have done with it. It would be a lot cheaper and much more effective. You could then give the money you save to charity.
Oh my days, I've dusted out my MN login because this makes me FUCKING FURIOUS.
I've been through it and it simply does not reflect my situation (ex lives overseas)
And however shite the app is - which is very shite, and as much as it misses the point about how folk seek advice and help when they are in crisis - why yes minister if I'm in crisis I always make a point of sitting down to fill out a questionaire.
Aside from all of that, for want of a word that sums it up any better, WANK, what is most insulting is that the DWP had 14million to spend on this when legal aid for separating and divorcing couples have been cut.
So yes, I absofuckingloutely think that a parent that is in crisis will use this app because Dishface Dave et al have cut the lifeblood of legal aid.
I suppose MN must have to be very careful indeed with this sort of thing (as with the Parentport thing) not to get co-opted into something that is just a figleaf to cover an unwillingness to facilitate/fund properly effective solutions. So often the desire to rope MN is much more about PR than about effective action.