Tell the Department of Work and Pensions what you think about their proposal to introduce curfew orders for non-payment of Child Maintenance
The consultation deadline is 12th August 2022 at 11:45pm
Parents who refuse to pay child maintenance could face curfews, Ministers announced on 9th July with detailed plans for new powers for the Child Maintenance Service. In fact, the law already gives them these powers, though it is not clear why they are now seeking to bring them into force and are consulting on the details of how these would be implemented.
That these proposals are simply wrong. Indeed, the consultation itself says that they do not expect fewer than 10 cases a year. However, they say "we believe that publicity around the introduction of this power would be an effective deterrent". In other words, what they are saying is that they want publicity and fear to increase child maintenance payments.
Please let the Government know what you feel based on your experience by responding to their consultation questions. These are:
Do you agree that curfew orders would be an effective method of enforcement to collect arrears and regain compliance?
Is an accumulated time period of 2 hours a reasonable amount of time before further action is taken?
If the curfew order is breached by 5 minutes or more, a warning letter or call will be made to the paying parent. Is this a sufficient amount of time to allow before contacting the paying parent?
Your responses may be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 12th August 2022 1t 11:45pm.
You can read the full details of the proposal and consultation here. Below are some of our reasons why we think this proposal is wrong-headed along with suggestions of things to think about if you have been subjected to any of the enforcement actions already being used.
The plan to introduce curfews suggests that this would be of last resort i.e. they will first:
- deduct the money from your earnings if you are employed
- take the money from your bank account or any jointly held account
- seize assets
- take your driving license
- take your passport away
- send baliffs to your house to collect any sellable possessions
One has to ask oneself, if they have not managed to find or secure any money having done all of the above, what difference will putting an ankle tag on people make to disrupt their day-to-day life and stop them leaving home? One also has to question the morality of putting even more psychological pressure on the majority of parents who are struggling financially, in the hope that a tiny proportion of avoiders might be deterred from non-payment. Where, we ask, will the money come from if all the above measures have already failed to identify any? How will creating an increased feeling of persecution and victimisation help those paying parents who do their best to support their children, but struggle to pay? It really looks like this proposal is there almost entirely for cheap publicity, with little consideration of the consequences.
All the objective data says that most paying parents with Child Maintenance arrears are on low incomes. If you have been subject to existing enforcement powers or if you have been threatened with such powers, you may wish to consider in your response:
- Were you able to afford the payments demanded of you?
- Did existing enforcement measures work on you? Were there any unintended consequences?
- Did anyone e.g. a family member have to help you with your payment(s)?
- What was the impact? Did it do more harm than good e.g. did it damage your relationship with your children or did your children from another partner suffer as a result?
- Did you become stressed because of the fear of action that might be taken or action actually taken? What was the impact on your mental health?
- How would you feel if you could not pay and had to wear an electronic tag on your ankle like a criminal?
- What might be the effect of having such a curfew on your family?
- Would you be fearful of dealing with family emergencies, knowing that CMS may decide these were not emergencies and you might go to jail?
- If you have repaid arrears, was this done with loans that you now can't service or fresh arrears being generated with ongoing maintenance payments?
ACTION 1: Respond to this consultation by 12th August 2022.
ACTION 2: If you are affected by the issues raised here, please contact your Member of Parliament. Keep it brief and:
- Share your experience.
- Draw their attention to this consultation.
- Ask your MP to contact the relevant DWP Minister(s), urging them to reject these ill-thought-through proposals.
- Point out that there is no evidence this will have any effect, but the publicity will continue drive a false narrative about 'deadbeat dads', not least to busy MPs.
- Suggest that your MP contacts us for further information at email@example.com.
You can find contact details for your MP here.
Please share this on social media, use hasthags #ChildMaintenance #CMS when posting your comments and tag us on Twitter using @FNF_Media
15th July 2022
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