Force them to work': British think tank calls on ministers to get tough on feckless fathers

Feckless fathers should be forced to take a job if they refuse to pay for the upkeep of their child, a think tank demanded last night.

They said that unemployed fathers on benefits who no longer live with their partner should be put on compulsory work experience schemes if they fail to take financial responsibility for their offspring.

Policy Exchange called on ministers to target these individuals and fast-track them on to compulsory work experience schemes to try to get them back into the labour market.

If they fail to stick with the work experience to the end, they would lose state payments, under the scheme being pushed by the centre-right think tank.

Centre-right Policy Exchange called for a job placement programme which would be similar to the controversial scheme that last month sparked accusations that young people were being forced into 'slave labour'. After a wave of protests last month ministers announced youngsters would no longer be sanctioned for quitting placements.

But despite the problems, Policy Exchange said a mandatory programme for fathers would make it more likely claimants would leave benefits and take paid work. Its report shows that absent fathers on benefits typically contribute just £5 a week in child maintenance payments.

The study estimates there are up to 65,800 men who have been out of work for six months or longer and claims the Child Support Agency focuses on collecting payments from working parents.

The think tank also demanded that fathers are named on birth certificates.

And it called for single parents claiming income support to be exempted from paying a fee to use the CSA under changes being introduced by the Government, warning it will deter the poorest from chasing payments.

Report author Peter Saunders said: 'Most fathers want to do all they can to help and support their children, even when they find themselves unemployed. But a minority persistently evade their responsibilities. 'This is unfair on their children, their former partners, other fathers who are doing the right thing, and taxpayers, who have to pick up the tab.

'Organising work activity for tens of thousands of men, many of whom may have forgotten or never learned routine work discipline would be expensive. 'In the longer term, however, such a policy should reduce the burden on taxpayers, by getting at least some of these men back into useful employment. 'If they refuse to enrol on to these work schemes then benefits should be withdrawn.


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