Pay for what is yours

In Britain and Australia, welfare rules now encourage and cajole single mums on benefits to find part-time work once their children start school. Absentee fathers are required to pay child support to help with the costs of raising their children.

But one section of the population is still allowed to evade the financial responsibilities of parenting –men on benefits who father children but have no means of paying for them.

The Daily Telegraph recently named Jamie Cumming, a 34-year-old unemployed man from Dundee, Scotland, as Britain’s ‘most feckless father.’ Cumming has fathered 15 children with 12 different women in 16 years. Two more of his babies are on the way. One of the mothers is Australian.

Nothing can be done to force him to take responsibility for the children he has sired. Nor can he be prevented from fathering even more in the future, if he can find women stupid enough to sleep with him. Most of his female partners have been young, and like him, few of them appear to work. Presumably he meets them in the dole queue when he goes to sign on.

How does Cumming support all these women and his children? He doesn’t, nor is he expected to. Being unemployed, the most he is required to give the mothers of his children under Britain’s benefits rules is £7 per week. That’s £7 in total, not £7 per child.

So who picks up the bill for all these ‘families’ he keeps creating? Not Cumming, nor the women he impregnates.

No, total strangers are paying to raise Cumming’s brood – people who (unlike Cumming and his partners) go to work, earn wages, pay their own way, support their own families, and are then required by law to support his multiple ‘families’ too. Such is the morality of the modern welfare state.

Obviously Cumming is an extreme case. But I estimate there are between one-quarter and one-third of a million absent fathers in Britain living on welfare and contributing almost nothing to the costs of raising their children.

Such men should be required to work full-time, no matter what kind of job it is, so they can start paying for their children’s upkeep. If that doesn’t cover the bills, their relatives – parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunties and step-parents – should contribute (why should strangers be expected to pay for a child’s upbringing before its relatives?). And if that fails, these deadbeat dads of the welfare system should be locked up for the criminal offence of child neglect – for if failing to organise financial provision for the upkeep of your children doesn’t constitute neglect, I don’t know what does.


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