NEW Government proposals would see parents that refuse to acknowledge their responsibilities and pay towards the upkeep of their children lose their passports. Estimates put the figure of unpaid child maintenance at £25 billion pounds.
Both parents are expected to contribute to supporting a child after a separation but in many instances, this is simply not what happens.
Kit Malthouse, the Child Maintenance Minister said:
“Denying someone a passport means that they just can’t go on holiday and we think that’s the sort of power that might change people’s minds about whether to fulfil their obligations.”
Dalia Ben-Galim, Policy Director of Gingerbread offered the proposals a cautious welcome:
“Further enforcement powers – including removal of passports – are welcome but, to achieve real impact, the DWP must make more rigorous use of existing powers to ensure swift enforcement action.
“We’re pleased that the government appears to be focused on tackling the longstanding problem of child maintenance arrears, but the threat of a passport being taken away won’t be enough alone.”
I would tend to agree. Holidays can still be had in the UK and with the weather as it is ones that are arguably just as sunny as many places abroad. Obviously this is a real issue that needs addressing and there can be no credible excuse for refusing to take financial responsibility for a child – however, I would like to see other measures considered such as non-custodial community service which would carry with it the stigma of being a visibly convicted criminal. If the government is going to address this issue properly then it potentially needs to be prepared to go much further.