Select Committee on Social Security Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Professor Jonathan Bradshaw and Ms Christine Skinner, University of York (CS 23)


  1. It is to be hoped that the Social Security Committee will play a more independent role in evaluating the White Paper proposals than it did between 1991 and 1997 when it allowed itself to become an arbiter and advocate of the Government's child support policy.

  2. This memorandum is based on quantitative and qualitative research to be published in a book in October 1999. Despite many improvements proposed in the new scheme we are sceptical about whether it will succeed. The following are the main points in our memorandum.

  3. Capacity to pay is overestimated. Non resident fathers, especially those with caring parents on Income Support (the focus of the new scheme), are much more likely than fathers in general to be poor. The proposal in the White Paper to make non resident fathers pay £5, even if they have (new) children and are on Income Support, is a regrettable undermining of the safety net and effectively a state sponsored transfer from one poor family to another. Effectively the maximum payment will be the Income Support entitlement of the caring parent's benefit unit. Non resident fathers will not be happy supporting the caring parent and also possibly her new partner and their new children.

  4. Non resident fathers do not accept that they have an unconditional obligation to pay child support. They believe it should be negotiated not imposed. It depends upon the fathers ability to pay, the children's material need for maintenance and the mother's and her partner's (if she has a partner) ability to provide financially.

  5. In particular financial obligations cannot be separated from the issue of contact. In most European child support regimes they are dealt with together. With the implementation of the Family Law Act stalled and in disarray, the Government have missed an ideal opportunity for joined up thinking. Instead of seeking to reform the CSA they could have established a service which enables these fathers and mothers to work out arrangements for child support, contact and other matters that concern them. This is what will happen to non Income Support cases—why not everyone? Of course the state and the taxpayer have an interest, and that interest can be represented by a framework of guidelines, even a formula, but only if it is able to take account of exceptional cases and individual circumstances in a reasonably flexible manner. It ought to be possible for the adjudication elements of child support to be returned to a reformed family court system with the collection and enforcement remaining the responsibility of a successor to the Child Support Agency.

  6. We should not start from here. We should be demanding that the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Social Security develop a joint approach to the settlement of issues following relationship breakdowns where children are involved. No attempting to reform the unreformable.


  We welcome the opportunity to give evidence to this hearing.

  7. The Social Security Committee has played a most extraordinary role in the sorry history of Child Support since the 1991 Act was implemented. The Committee under its former Chairman, Frank Field, effectively became the vehicle for the Secretary of State for Social Security to negotiate and seek agreement to the series of changes in the procedures, regulations and law that sought to make the original scheme work. In the event the Committee became part of the problem, providing support for some of the worst elements of the original scheme, not being sufficiently critical of the operational failures, agreeing to proposals for reform which did not go far enough, and generally allowing itself to be incorporated into the thinking of the Executive. It was not until the outspoken reports of the Committee of Public Accounts (HC 31, 1995; HC 313, 1998) and in the end a change of Government (and membership of your Committee) that the Social Security Committee eventually recognised that the Act had to be abandoned and the scheme redesigned from scratch. It is to be hoped that the Social Security Committee will play a more independent role in evaluating the White Paper proposals than it did between 1991 and 1997 when it allowed itself to become an arbiter and advocate of the Government's child support policy.

  8. The original scheme was enacted with the support of hardly any research evidence. We have been studying Child Support policy since the Child Support Act was implemented—and before. A study of lone parents (Bradshaw and Millar 1991) provided some of the little research evidence that was available when the Department of Social Security was designing the scheme. In 1993 we began to plan the first ever study of non resident fathers in Britain[16]. The findings of the resulting research are being published as a book in October (Bradshaw et al 1999). Meanwhile we have presented evidence relevant to Child Support derived from that research inter alia to the All Party Committee on Child Support (Bradshaw 1996), as comments on the Labour Party proposals for the reform of Child Support, to policy/research seminars (Bradshaw 1997, Bradshaw et al 1998), to the Department of Social Security on the Green Paper (Bradshaw et al 1998, Corden 1999) and now to this Committee.

  9. In the light of our research and despite many improvements proposed in the new scheme we are sceptical about whether it will succeed. There are in particular three findings of our research which present a challenge to the Government's proposals and to child support policy generally.

There is a tendency to exaggerate the capacity to pay of non resident fathers

  10. It was the intention of the Child Support Act 1991 to increase the level of Child Support paid and the proportion of non resident fathers paying child support. It has arguably failed to achieve either objective. Taking into account inflation the average level of child support actually paid is little higher than was found by Bradshaw and Millar (1991) and the proportion of non resident fathers paying formal child support has not increased. It is again a primary objective of the new scheme to increase the level of payments and the proportion of non resident fathers paying.

  11. One of the important findings from our research is that even if the new scheme results in increased compliance (or succeeds in enforcing it) there is rather limited paying potential among non resident fathers.

  12.  The socio-economic circumstances of non resident fathers differs from those of resident fathers. They are less likely to have stayed at school after 16, and are much less likely to be in employment: only two-thirds were in employment compared with over 80 per cent of resident fathers. Only about half the unemployed are looking for work, and there is a high rate of sickness and disability. The actual unemployment rate was 17 per cent compared with 9 per cent among resident fathers. Non resident fathers in employment were more likely to be low paid. Compared with fathers in general non resident fathers were much more likely to be dependant on Income Support and other benefits and to be living in poverty. This has implications for their capacity to pay Child Support.

  13. Fifty-seven per cent of the fathers we interviewed reported that they were currently paying maintenance. The odds of a father paying child support were much lower if he is not in employment, if he was young when he became a father, if there was no formal arrangement in place for paying child support, if the mother was in receipt of Income Support and if the father had no contact with the mother (and thereby probably also with children).

  14. What scope is there for increasing the proportion of fathers who are paying maintenance? If there was to be an effective child support regime what would be its target? What evidence is there that non payers are financially able to pay but nevertheless deliberately avoid their obligation? In an attempt to tackle these questions non payers in our sample were divided into one of four groups.

  15. Group 1: No paying potential. These included the unemployed, non active, those on Income Support or with equivalent net disposable income in the bottom quintile of the income distribution and those with shared care[17] of their children. This group consisted of 63 per cent of non payers.

  16. Group 2: Possible paying potential. These included those not in Group 1 but who had new family commitments involving children and equivalent net disposable income in the second and third quintile range, which means that there would be competition for whatever resources were available in the household. They constituted of 13 per cent of the non payers.

  17. Group 3: Probable paying potential. These had income is the second and third quintile of the income distribution, but no new family commitments, which meant that there was no competition for household resources. They consisted of 15 per cent of the non payers.

  18. Group 4: Certain paying potential. They were not in the previous three groups and had income in the top two quintiles. They consisted of 9 per cent of the non payers.

  19. We concluded from this analysis that there is rather little scope for increasing the proportion of non resident fathers who pay maintenance. It is important to emphasise that this analysis covers all non payers while the new scheme (and effectively the existing scheme) is aimed only at the former partners of lone parents on Income Support. Lone parents on Income Support are much less likely to be receiving child support and their non resident parents are also less likely than average to have any paying potential.

  20. This analysis of paying potential was based on the rules under the existing scheme, in particular that non resident fathers on Income Support with new families should not be expected to pay Child Support. There is a proposal in the White Paper to charge all fathers, regardless of their incomes and family commitments, a minimum child support of £5 per week. The justification for this is that personal circumstances cannot negate responsibilty for one's children. But this "principle" competes with the principle that Income Support is supposed to be a floor, a safety net. Although that principle has already been breached by direct deductions for utility debts and Social Fund loans, it is a further unfortunate undermining of the safety net. It is also effectively a transfer from one poor family to another poor family. Indeed what it does for lone mothers on Income Support is just about compensate them for the abolition of the lone parent premium in Income Support—by cutting the Income Support of their former partners. There is a balance to be struck between parents and the tax payer. The tax payer takes primary responsibility for supporting the children of those parents who are not in the labour market, and has, and will continue to have responsibility for supporting the children of lone mothers on Income Support. This has been the collective arrangement considered reasonable since 1948. It is an understandable aspiration to get fathers to contribute what they can, where they can, but not where they cannot and there is a risk that other children will suffer.

  21. Connected to this is the fact that there is no limit to the maximum maintenance that non resident fathers will be expected to pay. The rationale for this in the White Paper is that "children have a right to share in the income of their parents". However they are clearly not going to do so because when the maintenance is not high enough to lift them off IS, the amount they receive is fixed at £10 maximum. Effectively the maximum will be enough to lift the caring parent (and her new partner if she has one) above Income Support. Judging from our results there will be serious opposition from better off fathers if the scheme expects them to pay more than the costs of a child and anything more than necessary to lift their children (but not the mothers let alone the new partners) beyond the scope of Income Support. Why should the state determine how much fathers should pay for their non resident child when it does not involve the tax payer? It would be considered an intolerable assault on personal liberty if it happened in a couple family.

  22. When the Green Paper was published we undertook an analysis ( Bradshaw et al 1998)of the impact of the proposed child support scheme using data from the survey of non resident fathers in Britain to illustrate the possible impact of the Child Support scheme outlined in the Green Paper. We compared what fathers said that they were paying at the time they were interviewed, with what they would be expected to pay under the new scheme. What they were paying is not the same as what they should have been paying under the Child Support Act—in fact by the time they were interviewed only 23 per cent had been assessed by the CSA. Also if the scheme was introduced tomorrow none of these fathers would experience the actual changes in their Child Support outlined above, immediately.

    —  Under the new scheme most non resident parents will be expected to pay more than they are paying and this is true even for those already paying some child support.

    —  The largest group who will be expected to pay more are the least well off—those dependant on benefits and especially those dependent upon benefits with resident children, who under the existing scheme are not expected to pay any Child Support.

    —  The new scheme fails to take into account resident children (either their presence or how many there are) if the fathers' net earnings are below £100 or if they are dependent on benefits. Children in second families are therefore being treated inequitably across different groups of non resident parents.

Non resident fathers do not share the principle that they have an absolute financial obligation to support their biological children. It has to be negotiated, not imposed.

  23. The Child Support Act 1991 was based on the principle that biological fathers have an absolute and unreserved responsibility to provide financial support for their children throughout their lives. The most important general finding of our research was that not all the fathers accepted this principle. The maintenance obligation is one that was negotiated both implicitly and explicitly. Fathers arrived at a commitment to pay maintenance by implicitly weighing up the strength of the financial obligation in the context of their own personal, financial and family circumstances and those of the mother and children. In practice the obligation to pay was never unconditional, it always depended on circumstances. It was therefore an error to seek to establish a child support regime based on a rigid (and yet complicated formula) administered by the Department of Social Security. This area of policy calls for a degree of flexible, individualised justice that probably cannot be handled within the disciplines and culture of social security. When the CSA was being planned it might have been wiser and more effective to have reformed the existing court arrangements to increase consistency of adjudication and establish mechanisms for better review and enforcement. The existing scheme lost the support of both fathers and mothers because it was seen as unfair (and incompetent). The proposed new scheme is too like the old scheme. Child support is to be imposed without regard to other matters. We are unusual in Europe in seeking to do this. Corden (1999) found that the most usual arrangements for child support regime in European countries was for issues of property, finance, contact and child support to be dealt with together, through negotiation at the time of formal separation.

  24. The results of our study show that commitments to pay maintenance are made through a process of negotiation where fathers had to decide "the proper thing to do" in their particular circumstances. Making a commitment partly depended upon the fathers ability to pay, the children's material need for maintenance and the mother's and her partner's (if she had a partner) ability to provide financially. Most importantly however, it also depended upon the ability of fathers to negotiate explicate contact arrangements with the mother.

  26. In making a commitment to pay maintenance fathers felt that the mother's right to claim maintenance (albeit on behalf of children) had to be legitimised before they would pay. Primarily the mother's right to claim maintenance was accepted if she at least recognised, if not actively supported, the father's independent relationship with his child(ren). If the mothers failed to accept the father-child relationship, or failed to sustain it through granting contact, then the fathers found this extremely difficult to comprehend and this induced an overwhelming sense of victimisation and powerlessness. In the face of no contact, the fathers attitude tended to be that there was no point in paying maintenance as they would be "paying for a child they were not seeing". Thus fathers would get "nothing back" in return for maintenance (contact with their children). In some cases where maintenance was enforced, the fathers would use withdrawal of payment to send messages to the mother of the father's disquiet and anger over loss of contact. From the fathers' perspectives it was right and proper to fulfill their maintenance obligation in the context of meaningful relationships with their children. In the absence of such a relationship (where there was no contact), they were generally reluctant to accept the maintenance obligation on its own. Yet it is difficult for any external authority to ensure contact, or at least not without risk of damage to all involved (Walker, 1996).

  27. The White Paper actually recognises the interrelationship between contact and higher maintenance levels and the importance of contact to fathers' and children's well-being (DSS, 1999:45). The White Paper states that "It is clearly important for effective child support arrangements that contact is settled to the satisfaction of both parents.", but it does not say how that is to be achieved. There is only some vague notion of an "active family policy", whereby child support staff are to become part of a "wider family support network" (ibid.:27). In practice this translates into CSA staff providing parents with names and addresses of other agencies that deal with contact difficulties and family welfare problems. Whilst this may be helpful, it merely pays lip service to the problems facing some men in gaining contact with their children and to the interconnectedness of financial and social obligations. Ultimately, there is only the hope that a more effective system for child support will enable parents "to put financial issues to one side when sorting out the more difficult questions of caring for their children". It seems then, that in regard to contact issues, little has changed for child support policy.

  28. The results of this research show that the child support scheme has a very limited prospect of success unless it is based on negotiation between the parents, which is recognised as fair and the perception of fairness on the fathers part depends more than anything on their ability (and the former partners' willingness) to have shared parental responsibility of their children. What is needed is a service which enables these fathers and mothers to work out arrangements for child support, contact and other matters that concern them.

  29. What we are going to have is a split system for child support—the DSS, dealing almost exclusively with Income Support cases and other cases making private arrangements between themselves or with the support of solicitors. At the same time the Lord Chancellor's Department under the 1996 Family Law Act is experimenting with an information service and a mediation service following marital breakdown (but not cohabitation breakdown) covering the arrangements for children, the distribution of property and other assets—in fact everything except child support. The Family Law Act has not yet been fully implemented and is indeed, with the failure of the information service and mediation experiments, stalled. Thus there is an opportunity for thrashing out a common strategy and more coherent set of arrangements for negotiating contact, child support and other matters consequent on the breakdown of relationships when children are involved. The difficulty is that we are not starting from scratch—the Child Support Agency exists; the Family Law Act exists, after a torrid passage through Parliament. The Lord Chancellor does not want to go back to the drawing board and certainly is reluctant to take on the poisoned chalice of child support and so we will be left after the reforms with a set of incoherent arrangements. In which private agreements for child support are acceptable, but only where Income Support is not paid to the children.

The moral power of children's entitlement to encourage compliance may be overestimated

  30. Making a commitment to pay maintenance is not based upon a straightforward economic calculation, it also constitutes a moral obligation as it reflects normative expectations for specific family practices—fathers should pay maintenance (it is argued) because children are entitled to financial support from their parents. It is this moral argument of entitlement that has underpinned the legitimacy of the Child Support Acts, although the 1991 and 1995 Acts were flawed as none, or only a small amount of maintenance, was handed over to the poorest children who were dependent upon means tested benefits. The new proposals for maintenance premium and disregards intend to correct this and re-establish the legitimacy of the principle of children's entitlement.

  31. Certainly fathers in our research have tended not to dispute this principle of entitlement, at least in the abstract, and whilst premiums and disregards will benefit mothers and children and are to be applauded, their incentive effect on fathers may be more limited; because children's entitlement must be turned into reality not by fathers, but by mothers. It is mothers, as the recipients of maintenance, that have the power to guarantee that children will benefit from their entitlement to maintenance both materially, be spending it appropriately, and emotionally by letting children know their fathers are supporting them. Where relations with mothers were mistrustful —which often went hand in hand with no contact—the fathers questioned the legitimacy of the obligation because;

    —  the mother was not entitled to it as she did not facilitate contact,

    —  there was no guarantee that the children would benefit from their entitlement because the money might be spent for the benefit of others, and

    —  the children would not necessarily know, in the absence of contact with their fathers, that maintenance was being paid and therefore the meanings of care attached to payment were rendered invisible to the children themselves.

  32. In such circumstances the moral power of children's entitlement to encourage compliance is diminished. In effect mothers were acting as trustees; trustees of the fathers' "active" role as a parent and trustees of the expression of care attached to the giving of maintenance money. Fathers wanted to use maintenance money as a means to express their feelings for their children. This is exactly what everyone expects of maintenance payment—that it acts as an expression of care. But it also demonstrates how the utility of maintenance—as money—is not only important to children's material needs, but also plays a vital part in the sustenance of the father-child relationship. Because through its transparency, maintenance money can act as an implicit means of communication between father and child. Therefore where fathers had no faith in the mother as a trustee, the obligation to pay maintenance was not accepted as legitimate because there was no way of knowing that payment would increase the emotional or material well-being of children. Thus the moral obligation of children's entitlement could not be fulfilled as there was no gain to the children involved. Fathers therefore preferred to give informal support in the form of gifts, or savings which would go directly to the children without the need to depend upon the mother. Children's entitlement to financial support was therefore preserved, though not their entitlement to formal cash maintenance.

  33. Thus non-payment of maintenance does not necessarily mean that fathers' behaviour is amoral, or inconsistent with the principle of children's entitlement. Rather it shows how the moral power of children's entitlement to financial support can also work to discourage payment of maintenance. Because in the context of social relationships which vary in quality, fathers do not always believe that by simply paying maintenance the assumed benefits of entitlement can be turned into reality. Therefore the assumption in the White Paper, that the maintenance premium will encourage compliance because the "fathers will know that they are contributing directly to the support of their children" (DSS, 1999:18) completely misses the point. Fathers will not necessarily know, or see, that their contributions will successfully increase the welfare of their children at all.

  34. This does not mean to say that children's entitlement is not a reason for payment, but rather this was only one way in which the obligation to pay was accepted as legitimate. As argued already the obligation was regarded as legitimate where the mother facilitated contact, but other ways included;

    —  Where the mother was viewed as being entitled on the basis of her role as the primary carer,

    —  where the fathers' felt a need to compensate mothers and/or children for past misdemeanours on the part of the father (guilt about adultery for example),

    —  where the fathers wanted to pay maintenance as a token gesture to maintain their reputation as caring fathers in the eyes of mothers and others, and

    —  where fathers earmarked part or all of the maintenance to be spent only upon the children directly for clothes, shoes etc. and thus it could act as a kind of gift.

  35. Thus there were four types of payments which reflected different ways in which the obligation was legitimised; entitled maintenance (for mothers as well as children), token maintenance, compensatory maintenance and gift maintenance. The roots of this legitimacy, reflected the history of the relationships with mothers and children and also the current quality of these relationships.

  36. The key point is that, maintenance is seen as a moral obligation that is based on children's entitlement, but children's entitlement is but one way in which the obligation is legitimised. Moreover, children's entitlement was intimately interwoven with mothers' entitlement. Ultimately the legitimacy of the obligation, based upon children's entitlement, was dependent upon a trusting relationship between the parents.

  37. Our research shows that fathers do want to fulfill all their parental obligations; social, emotional and financial, but it seems that one is unsatisfactory without the others. There is therefore in some sense no need to "reinforce" parental obligations—they exist and are accepted already. But there is a need to facilitate them through an increased understanding of the emotional and moral turmoil that follows in the wake of family separation, or in the wake of cohabitation breakdown or non-marital births.


  38.  The mistake that the Child Support Act made was that the state took a robust moral stance in the interests of the tax payer and imposed a law on people who, it has been demonstrated, were not prepared to consent to it. In general Ministers, have been much more open in this episode of Child Support policy making than those that have gone before. The discourse of vilification has been muted, the language changed, many more people, including notably non resident fathers groups, have been given an opportunity to have their say, and some attention has been paid to research evidence.

  39.  However, little has changed between the Green and White Papers. Discussion of reform has been most heavily influenced by DSS and the Child Support Agency's experience of the 1991 Act and its successors. The proposals fall short of providing a truly integrated system. Policy makers in the DSS have been unwilling to ask themselves the question—do we really want to start from here (or perhaps when they have approached other Departments to attempt more joined up thinking they have been rebuffed—no one else wanted to pick up or be associated with this poisoned chalice). It is particularly significant that one of the few (and most welcome) changes between the Green and White Papers was forced on the DSS by the Treasury and Inland Revenue who insisted on Child Support being completely disregarded for Family Tax Credit.

  40.  The Government have accepted the legitimacy of private negotiations in those circumstances (despite the involvement of the tax payer) but not for lone mothers receiving Income Support. Here a formula will still be rigidly enforced and very strict conditions for departures from the formula will still be applied. The prospects for the legitimacy of child support policy do not look hopeful—even with a maintenance premium. The state is earmarking a proportion of fathers' earned income (and benefit income in the case of IS claimants) for maintenance purposes where the non-resident children are dependent upon IS. In that sense the obligation to pay maintenance is still effectively a tax, as this financial debt is to come first before fathers' other "day-to-day expenses" (DSS, 1999:57) and before fathers' other obligations to their non-resident children, including the provision of informal support—except for some exceptional expenses such as mortgages payments for the child's home (ibid. p40).

  41.  Fundamental confusions over the aims of child support policy remain. Does it aim to seek some recompense for the state's costs in supporting children or is it about getting more money to children to increase their well-being? If it is the latter then more care should be exercised in the assessment and the provision of informal support should be recognised—impossible in a formula driven system. It is clear then, that despite the maintenance premium, the new proposals run the same risk of unpopularity as the state is still stepping in to decide the level of obligation based on its desire to represent the tax payers interest.

  42.  The weakness of the proposed scheme for child support is that the assessment is still formula driven and still imposed and enforced completely independently of negotiations between the parents about their arrangements for financial support, contact and other related matters. What policy makers have not faced up to is the fact that "active" parenthood, or more correctly "active" non-resident fatherhood, is not for life, not at least without a private agreement being reached between the parents themselves. That an external Agency should define how this parental obligation to children is not only to be expressed—merely in cash terms—but also prioritised is anathema in the context of the private meanings of parenthood. Fathers' social, financial and moral obligations to their children are intimately interwoven, they exist and operate in different social realities and are effectively negotiated within a framework of parenthood, or fatherhood and not within a framework of DSS regulations.

  43.  We should not start from here. We should be demanding that the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Social Security develop a joint approach to the settlement of issues following relationship breakdowns where children are involved. Policy makers should grasp the nettle and set in place a series of experimental pilot schemes to explore a co-ordinated Family Court System for dealing with all matters relating to divorce and cohabitation breakdown. The time has come to attempt to discover real "joined up" solutions to "joined up" problems.

September 1999


  Bradshaw, J. and Millar, J. (1991) Lone Parent Families in the UK, London, HMSO

  Bradshaw, J., Skinner, C. and Williams, J. (1998) Impact of the proposed child support scheme on non resident parents, unpublished paper.

  Bradshaw, J. (1998) Will fathers pay child support,. Can fathers pay child support, Family Policy Studies Centre Seminar, Nuffield Foundation, 11 May 1998.

  Bradshaw, J., Stimson, C., Skinner, C. and Williams, J. (1999) Absent Fathers?, London: Routledge.

  Bradshaw, J., Stimson, C., Skinner, C. and Williams, J. (1999) Non resident fathers in Britain, in Mcrae, S. (ed) Household and family change, Oxford University Press.

  Bradshaw, J. (1996) The Child Support Act: talk to the All Party Committee on Child Support, subsequently published in NACSA News, March/April, 19-22.

  Bradshaw, J. (1997) Think again Labour: Comments on the Labour Party proposals for the reform of Child Support, subsequently published in NACSA News.

  Clarke, K., Glendinning, C. and Craig, G. (1994) Losing Support: Children and the Child Support Act, London: The Children's Society.

  Cm 4349 (1999) A new contract for welfare: Children's rights and parents responsibilities, London: HMSO.

  Corden A.(1999) Making child maintenance regimes work, Family Policy Studies Centre and JRF.

  Davis, G., Wikeley, N., and Young, R. (1998) Child Support in Action, Oxford: Hart Publishing.

  House of Commons, HC.31 (1995) First Report on the Child Support Agency Committee of Public Accounts Session 95-96, London: HMSO.

  House of Commons, HC 313 (February 1998) Child Support Agency: Client Funds Account 1996-1997, Committee of Public Accounts, Twenty First Report, Session 1997-1998. London: TSO.

  Hutton, S., Carlisle, J. and Corden, A. (1997) `Depth Follow-Up to the CSA National Client Survey, Working Paper DSS 1501, Social Policy Research Unit, University of York.

  Walker, J. (1996) Staying in Touch, Family Policy Studies Centre Bulletin, November.

16   The research was funded by the ESRC (with supplementary funding from DSS) as part of the programme of research on Population and Household Change. It consisted of a sample survey of about 600 non resident fathers in Britain, identified by a screening questionnaire in an omnibus survey, plus two follow-up qualitative studies, one of which was devoted to financial obligations. While we were able to adjust from non response bias among those fathers indentified in the screening survey, only about 5 per cent of men identified themselves as non resident fathers. We expect the actual proportion to be up to three times this. So the sample is unlikely to be representative of all non resident fathers. Back

17   i.e. children spend roughly equal amounts of time living in their mother's and father's households. Back

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