Thursday, 17th September 2009
By Laura Sturrock
A MILNGAVIE man who has worked for years with people who are threatened with becoming homeless, is to lose his own home because of Child Support Agency demands.
Stuart McDonald (40), a homelessness officer with East Dunbartonshire Council, fears that he won’t be able to pay his mortgage because the CSA is going to take 40 per cent of his wages.
He had a private arrangement with his ex-wife following their divorce a year ago but she is now seeking payments through the CSA.
This means he is now in arrears and the CSA is going to backdate the amount he owes to 2007 and deduct it from his earnings every month.
Stuart said: “This will leave me financially destitute, I will lose my house and car because I won’t be able to keep up the payments.
“I already struggle financially. I work two nights a week in a pub to supplement my income and I had to sell my house in Milngavie to move to a more affordable flat in Clydebank.
“I’ve lived in Milngavie for the past 12 years so it was difficult to leave, it meant that I was further away from my children.”
Stuart’s ex-wife is the full-time carer of their sons, aged 14 and 10, and he claims that she is now living a lavish lifestyle with her new high-earning partner in Bearsden.
He said: “He’s a company director, they live next door to Rangers players and take several holidays a year.
“If she chooses to go through the CSA she will force me out of work and end up with nothing. I will lose my job because I will have no car to get to work and I won’t even have a house for the boys to visit me in.
“The boys will suffer because I won’t be able to give them lifts to football training etc.”
Mr McDonald has taken advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau but because the CSA is a government agency he has been told there is little that he can do.
Catherine Bradley, manager at Kirkintilloch CAB, said: “This is an awful situation for Mr McDonald and unfortunately it’s becoming more common.
“It’s very unfair. We have dealt with cases similar to this in the past but the CSA is wholly unsympathetic to individual circumstances. We can appeal decisions but haven’t had a lot of success in the past so we have advised him to talk to his local MSP or MP so they can highlight the problem at a higher level.
“We understand that parents should make a contribution to the upbringing of their children and in this case Mr McDonald is happy to do so. He is being asked to contribute far too much in a short period of time and he could become homeless as a result.”
A spokesperson for the CSA said: “All parents are free to agree their own, private child maintenance arrangements or, if they cannot agree, to use the services of the Child Support Agency. The current CSA maintenance scheme requires the non-resident parent to pay between 15 to 25 per cent of their net income, depending on the number of children involved.
“Where arrears have built up, the Agency can and will take up to 40 per cent of the non-resident parent’s earnings to ensure the debt is quickly repaid and the qualifying children benefit from payments as soon as possible.
“When making any decisions on the recovery of arrears, however, the CSA will always listen to genuine claims of hardship that enforcement action might cause.”