Tory MP calls for home curfew for parents who don't pay child maintenance

Kieran Mullan said home detention for divorced parents not paying child support would be a 'powerful reality check'

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Divorced mums and dads who do not pay child maintenance should be punished with a “home curfew” preventing them from leaving their house, ministers have heard.

Conservative MP Dr Kieran Mullan said home detention for parents that do not pay support to their children would act as a “powerful reality check” for them.

The Crewe and Nantwich MP told the Commons: “When discussing this issue, we are talking about the most important building block in our society – the need for parents to take responsibility for their own children. The overwhelming majority of parents do exactly that, whether together or separately they take care of their financial responsibilities.

“My parents are divorced and that had no bearing whatsoever on both of them continuing to look after myself and my siblings, but sadly not every parent does.”

Dr Mullan claimed that the total amount owed in outstanding child maintenance payments at the end of September 2021 was £436 million, and could hit £1 billion by 2031.

He also claimed that if it were paid, it could lift 60% of children not in receipt of payment out of poverty.

Kieran Mullan
Kieran Mullan

Dr Mullan said: “This is a huge amount of money that is not being paid by non-residential parents, and we have a responsibility to hold to account and punish those individuals who behave in this deplorable manner.”

The MP said he would welcome future consultation on introducing home curfew, telling the Commons: “Home curfew could remain in place for a designated period regardless of whether or not a parent started to pay, for example three months.

“I imagine three months at home every night pondering their responsibilities would be a powerful reality check. People need to start understanding we, as a society, do not find it acceptable and they will be punished for not paying for upkeep of their children.”

He added: “Not earning any money should only be accepted as an excuse for not paying maintenance when there has been a genuine attempt to find work, determined in the same way the DWP assesses this as part of the wider work and welfare state.

“If you have responsibility for children you should be out there doing everything you can to find a job, and if you aren’t doing that, then you shouldn’t be out socialising of an evening.”

Work and pensions minister Guy Opperman said it was “very much the case” that the Government favoured introducing home curfew powers.

He said the Government is required by law to consult on it, and would do so in June.

Mr Opperman added: “The existing sanctions clearly disrupt a paying person’s earnings, and this is the key conflict with the desire to get money to the children.

“But the benefit of this power is that it is likely to disrupt a paying person’s lifestyle rather than their earning capacity, and one hopes very strongly that given curfew orders will not impact employment or the ability to earn, that this is something we feel is the right way forward.”