Letter to Malcolm Wicks, minister in the DWP

The shared care formula

Reference to this exchange in Hansard
Here is a commentary on the response to this letter from the "Ministerial Correspondence Unit"

(Address removed)

Mr Malcolm Wicks MP
House of Commons

22nd May 2002

Dear Sir

This is not a constituency matter. I am writing to you (with a copy to Dr. Phyllis Starkey) because of the following exchange that took place on 20th May:

Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West): As the Minister said, the new formula will increase the efficiency of the staff of the CSA but will it better take account of cases in which the care of children is genuinely shared 50:50 between the parents, especially as 100 per cent. of child benefit has to go to one parent?

Malcolm Wicks: Yes is the short answer. Some children are brought up by both parents and we want to encourage that. The formula therefore takes account of it.

The way "shared care" is handled in the new scheme is probably the single most flawed aspect of the formula. The way 50:50 sharing is handled is truly bizarre!

Evidence for this was covered at length in submissions to the 10th report of the Social Security Select Committee for 1998-99. Evidence is shown in the "Case Studies" shown in the evidence for the afternoon of Wednesday 15th September 1999. I have attached copies of 2 of the case studies. More details were provided (together with a fairer formula) in the 4th Appendix to the report. I have attached just the first page of that Appendix.

(Since that date, the formula has changed to allow a £7 adjustment per child in the 50:50 situation. That makes little difference to the unfairness, but it does have the weird consequence that in some cases the liability becomes less as the number of qualifying children increases!)

I am a childfree business analyst. I explore these and many other issues on my web site, see below. I am attempting to design the system that should follow the new system.

Yours faithfully

Barry Pearson

"Child Support Analysis for the 21st Century"

Page last updated: 12 March, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003