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Fathers should pay up, Mr Lammy says

11 January 2012

by Ed Thornton

ABSENT fathers should no longer be “given an easy ride”, and child-maintenance payments should be deducted from their salaries and benefits, David Lammy MP argues in a new book Out of the Ashes: Britain after the riots (Guardian Books).

Mr Lammy said that, since last summer’s riots, which began in his constituency of Tottenham, he had become “even more convinced about the importance of fatherhood. We can no longer afford for fathers to either opt out of or be shut out of family life.”

In the book, Mr Lammy recounts how, after his father left his mother, she “fought desperately hard to hold her family together” and “took solace in the sense of fellowship surround­ing our church. Faith was a reason for her children to shun some of the tempting shortcuts offered by street culture and drugs.”

Mr Lammy argues that “for too long the absent father has been given an easy ride, permitted to walk away from his responsibilities by weak legislation and a hapless Child Support Agency”.

He suggests that the Government has “chosen to punish women rather than support them when they are left with a child. Under new legislation, single mothers will be asked to pay for the CSA to collect the money they are owed”. The CSA will charge an initial fee of £100, he says, and a commission of between seven and 12 per cent on whatever is collected.

“The Government should be making it easier, not harder, for women to chase down errant fathers. Those who walk away from their children, imagining that they can divorce a child in the same way one might a partner, should have money taken directly from their salaries or benefits.”

The Daily Telegraph reported last month that the Government was considering proposals to oblige fathers to sign their child’s birth certificate. A Downing Street spokes­man was quoted as saying: “We are committed to ensuring that govern­ment policy is family-friendly, and the Prime Minister has been clear previously that more should be done to ensure the role of fathers is recog­nised and strengthened.”

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