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Better System Needed To Ensure Fair Child Support

Friday 28th Apr 2000
Dr Muriel Newman
Media Release -- Social Welfare

The government is being warned that a lack of proper information surrounding the collection of child support is making the process unfair and costly to parents and taxpayers.

The warning comes from ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman who, through parliamentary questions, has been investigating the issue of child support both through the benefit system and the Inland Revenue Department.

Muriel Newman said the Minister of Social Services threw his hands up in horror when it was revealed 14,000 fathers were getting away without paying a cent towards child support because they weren’t being named on DPB forms. “But, what that figure revealed was that because of a lack of information, no-one knew why or how it was happening,” she said.

On the other side of the child support equation, questions to the Minister of Revenue reveal that although some accurate information is available about non-custodial parents who are paying more than the minimum – ‘as at 1 February Inland Revenue Child Support had 59,534 arrangements totalling $96,275,118 (excl penalites) in place for the repayment of child support arrears’ – details of the rest are sketchy.

“In response to a series of questions, it appears that the Commissioner of Inland Revenue doesn’t even know the exact number of parents paying the minimum of $10 a week for their children – ‘the department does not currently hold statistics for this information, according to research conducted in September 1998 approximately 55% of all liable persons that had a current ongoing assessment at that time were assessed at the minimum’- they don’t know how many children these $10 a week parents are responsible for and they cannot tell us how many are mothers and how many are fathers. Further, they have no records of how long these parents have been paying the minimum for their children, nor how many have been named by more than one DPB recipient,” said Muriel Newman.

Muriel Newman said it is impossible to have a fair, well run child support system if even basic monitoring isn’t being carried out.

“How can the Government ensure that the system is fair if it doesn’t even gather basic information. It must be a priority for the Government to urgently put in place systems around child support to ensure that accurate information is collected,” said Muriel Newman.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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