Unpaid child support a growing problem

Chasing up the increasing rates of unpaid child support is a priority in helping solo mums make ends meet, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Speaking to TV3's The Nation, Ms Bennett said the $2.8 billion of outstanding child support was being targeted by IRD, and better matching with Australia allowed IRD to chase fathers who were overseas.

But Ms Bennett acknowledged getting financial support for solo mothers from fathers was something the government could be doing better.

She said for fathers on the benefit who owed child support, there was a disincentive to get off the benefit as they would then face higher child support obligations.

Ms Bennett said there were a few men who would "prey" on teen mums and then not pay child support.

"There's a high proportion that get them pregnant, bugger off quite frankly, and then don't pay for them, and then move on to the next vulnerable young woman that's insecure and looking for a bit of love."

"We've all been through turning to the wrong person and then off they go again," she said.

"There is a much wider policy issue that I can well accept we need to be addressing better.

"What we can do, though, is get those girls with the right support, the right mentors so that they're not being preyed on by these boys."

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the DPB.

There are almost 80,000 people on the Sole Parent Support benefit - the new name for the DPB - a number Ms Bennett said was due to unstable relationships, less sanctity of marriage and intergenerational use of benefits.

Ms Bennett said that 60% of teens who go on the benefit are still receiving it 10 years later.

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