Britain cracks down on neglectful parents

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:49am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Parents in Britain who refuse to pay child maintenance could have their passports and driving licenses confiscated without a court order under tough new laws aimed at cleaning up the welfare system.

The Welfare Reform bill, which will be debated by lawmakers on Tuesday, also seeks to nudge single parents and people with health problems into employment and to make the long-term unemployed work for their state benefits.

"For those who choose not to support their own kids, we will not stand by and do nothing. If a parent refuses to pay up then we will stop them traveling abroad or even using their car," said work and pensions minister James Purnell.

The government has dubbed the changes the biggest shake-up of the welfare system for 60 years but it has also come under criticism for tabling the reforms at a time of soaring unemployment and slumping economic activity.

(Reporting by Matt Falloon, editing by Paul Casciato)