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Child support debt doubles under Labour


Child support debt doubles under Labour

The amount of child support money owed by parents has doubled to more than $600 million in three years, says National Social Services spokesperson Katherine Rich.

The total child support debt unpaid by non-custodial parents at 30 November 2002 was $617,233,615, compared with $308 million three years ago.

“This huge increase in the amount owed is of major concern. The Government has sat back and allowed the debt to spiral out of control and is continuing to ignore the problem.

“These figures are particularly telling given that Labour criticised the previous Government for a so-called “do nothing” approach regarding rising child support debt, when any increases at the time were minor by comparison. “The system for paying child support is flawed. It is obvious the system is not working and the penalty payments for non-payment have no effect as people simply ignore them.

“The Government needs to have a serious look at the system and why the debt has spiralled out of control under its stewardship. Even with taxpayers picking up the tab, the detrimental effect on tens of thousands of children must be addressed,” says Mrs Rich.

“The major losers are children trapped in poverty, through no fault of their own. Our social welfare system is in place to give security, quality of life and choice to such children.

“I can do no better than quote Judge Mick Brown and the title of his review of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, “Care and Protection is about adult behaviour”. “The defaulting parents and those responsible for the system of Social Security must be brought to account. Non-custodial parents must share the responsibility for their children’s well-being. “We can’t afford to lose whole generations because of a lack of responsibility on the part of parents, family, or indeed the lawmakers,” says Mrs Rich.

FACTS AND FIGURES

· The total value of child support debts unpaid by non-custodial parents at 30.11.02 was $617,233,615.47 - Parliamentary question 15654.

· The debt was $505 million in May 2002 - Evening Post 29.5.02
· It has doubled since June 1999 when it was $308 million. - Sunday Star Times, 13.6.99.


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