Political & Treasury involvement
The model on which the reformed scheme is based
The reformed scheme, like the current scheme, is oriented towards:
"Lone Mother on Income Support with young children + Absent Father with significant income".
Justification for this statement
This is justification for the claim above about what the schemes are based on. It is not justification for basing the schemes on this model!
It isn't that all features of the schemes are based on this model. It is that this is the starting point, and then different cases are handled by "tweaks" and "fudges", not by building them into the starting point.
The "pull" of this paradigm
Some people discussing child support appear to believe that CSA cases are all "similar" to this. Even when discussing an explicitly different situation, some people make statements that indicate they are really discussing this sort of case. The reformed scheme has been designed in part by interpreting totally different situations as though they were "really" this case. This leads to some astonishing statements and unfair law.
Here is a test for the reader! What do you think the consequences of the 2nd sentence of this statement from the CSA Reform White Paper should be?
Should it be: "because the cost to the mother of keeping a child is not necessarily greatly reduced if care is split equally, the father should pay child support?"
Should it be: "because the cost to the father of keeping a child is not necessarily greatly reduced if care is split equally, the mother should pay child support?"
If you choose the first and reject the second - why? Now ask yourself this question:
If you chose "the parent with care is the mother, and the father should pay child support", you are in "good" company. The government has chosen this version, and designed the reformed scheme for it. There is no logic for this. They were lured by the paradigm, even though this is a very different situation. In fact, it should be obvious that the stated facts are insufficient to choose either of these consequences! Either no-one should pay, or more information is needed, for example "who earns most?"
The legislation for the reformed scheme chooses the mother rather than the father as parent with care if everything is equal. The father then has to pay nearly half the amount he would pay if he never even saw the child. Why?
Perhaps a quarter (although probably fewer) of CSA cases do conform to the government's model. Any scheme has to cater for these cases.
But this is not the only model, and perhaps not the most common model. It has distorted the formula to an extent unwarranted by its frequency. It is a model driven by old-fashioned 1980s thinking, and Treasury protection. It is certainly nothing about relieving child poverty!
The scheme for the 21st Century needs to start with the more general case, then cater for the various factors show in the table as special cases. They can still be handled effectively - but they won't be the default assumption.
 CSA Reform White Paper
|Page last updated: 17 December, 2003||© Copyright Barry Pearson 2003|