BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Father loses child benefit test case
Mother and child
Seven million families claim child benefit
A father who wanted a share of the benefits his ex-wife receives for their child has lost his High Court test case.

A judge rejected the claim by firefighter Kevin Barber that fathers separated from their wives should have the legal right to share child benefits with mothers if they played an equal role in caring for their children.


This scheme results in highly disparate treatment

Richard Drabble QC
Mr Barber, from Nottinghamshire, had challenged a government refusal to split the child benefit for one of his two sons, even though he and his wife Karen jointly care for the boy under a shared care arrangement.

The judge, Sir Richard Tucker, ruled there had been no unlawful discrimination or breach of Mr Barber's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Barber's solicitor Conrad Haley, of the human rights pressure group Public Law Project, said he was considering an appeal.

'All or nothing'

He said: "It was disappointing for us. The judge feels that the administration of the child benefits system would be hampered by having to look more closely in these sort of cases where child benefit might have to be split, and that would increase costs and the time it takes to decide claims."

The judge had heard that Mr Barber's case was "one of several which raise issues in relation to the all-or-nothing approach of the UK Government to shared care arrangements and various welfare benefits".

During a recent hearing, Richard Drabble QC, argued on behalf of Mr Barber that the UK statutory scheme adopted an "all-or-nothing" approach which mostly favoured mothers.

He said one partner received child benefit, which was a "gateway" to many additional benefits and allowances including income support, family credit and housing benefit, while the other partner received nothing.

Discrimination

Mr Drabble argued that restricting payments was contrary to articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protected the right to family life and prohibited discrimination.

He told the judge: "This scheme results in highly disparate treatment of individuals who, but for the receipt of child benefit, appear to be in identical situations."

He asked the court to interpret the current regulations in a way which was compatible with the convention and allow the benefits to be split between the parents - or else declare the benefits legislation incompatible with human rights laws.

Child benefit, which the government regards as a crucial part of its long-term strategy to eliminate child poverty, is currently claimed by around seven million families.

They receive 15.75 per week for the eldest child and 10.55 for subsequent children.


Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

07 Jul 02 | Politics
29 Apr 02 | Politics
03 Dec 01 | Business
28 Apr 02 | Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes