The Social Security Advisory Committee has published a report to try to look at and improve the welfare of separated families.
When a family receives child benefit, other child related or work related benefits the family can often just about manage. When they separate, as has been the case with the 2.5 million families in the UK today, which includes 3.9 million children, there is a huge strain placed upon both parents.
The Courts try to start from the presumption of the parents sharing responsibilities for the children, but this is often impractical and in some cases, made impossible by the benefits received or the work commitments of one or both parents. There is also a huge problem with child maintenance. The two systems are leaving millions of children without the financial, and day to day support they deserve.
The report finds - "We believe that improvements are needed to ensure separated parents are not unduly suffering. This means that current and future policy should consider the impact on both parents, not just the parent with main responsibility of care."
The report finds that many separated parents share caring responsibilities for their children. However, those who need to claim social security can struggle to share care because the system assumes there is one main carer and so only one parent can be entitled to child-related benefits