Deadbeat Parents in UK to be Named on Web Site

Absent parents who fail to make child support payments could find themselves on a name and shame Web site as part of the UK government's plans to shake up the Child Support Agency (CSA).

Letters will go out to about 100 single parents, mostly mothers, asking if they want to give the go-ahead for the name of the child's father to go online.

The measure is just one of many the government has announced as it prepares to replace the CSA next year with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) after 13 years of computer problems and missed payments totaling up to 3.5 billion pounds.

Other measures planned under the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill include the removal of passports and the imposition of curfews on those who refuse to pay maintenance.

The commission will also be able to deduct cash direct from maintenance dodgers' bank accounts and charge absent parents for the cost of tracking them down.

Parents will be encouraged under the new system to come to private agreements on financial support for children when they separate, rather than being required to comply with officially set maintenance arrangements, as the CSA does.

But critics described the name and shame approach as "gimmicky."

They also questioned the possible effect on children whose parent has been publicly named and shamed.

The CSA already has extensive powers, they add, including access to accounts and the right to sell the home of non-paying parents.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton said the powers will beef up maintenance collection and act as a deterrent against non-payment.

"There are a small number of parents who seem to think that paying for their kids is something they can simply choose not to do -- it isn't -- and these new powers will mean that non-payment brings real and lasting penalties.

The new rules, he added, will be simpler and more transparent, making it harder to hide income.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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