HL Deb 16 July 1997 vol 581 cc117-8WA
Earl Russell

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will entertain the possibility that some absent parents assessed for maintenance under the Child Support Act may be unable rather than unwilling to pay the sums assessed on them.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

The Government believe that children are entitled to the support of both parents and the Child Support scheme is designed to provide levels of maintenance which absent parents can realistically afford. The protected income provisions ensure that absent parents and their current families are at least £30 a week better off after payment of maintenance than they would be if receiving income support, and there are additional provisions to restrict the maximum amount of current maintenance to 30 per cent. of the absent parent's net income. The Departures system introduced in December 1996 also enables the formula assessment to be varied in prescribed circumstances.