Absent parents could have £500 a year taken from their benefits in a new move by the Coalition.
More than 160,000 unemployed parents will have to double the amount they contribute towards their children's upkeep. At the moment, parents on benefits pay just £5 a week, regardless of how many children they have.
Under new rules to be announced today, this will increase to £10 a week, taken directly from benefit payments.
The new plans will also do away with the requirement for some mums and dads who share custody to have to pay maintenance.
Junior work and pensions minister Maria Miller said the Government wants to 'encourage and support parents to make their own family-based arrangements, but are committed to providing a statutory service for those separated parents who are unable to co-operate.'
It is estimated that absent parents currently avoid coughing up £3 billion in support payments to their kids.
Some of these parents have been tracked down by the Government who have recouped the money through their benefits, but it is claimed that tracing them costs the tax payer a whopping 40p for every pound that parents then pay.
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions told the Telegraph that it is 'only right' that the child maintenance system encourages parents to take responsibility for their offspring, saying: "Part of doing this is to put in place incentives that make sure parents pay their fair share towards the cost of their children's upbringing."
What do you think?
Is £10 a week enough?Or should both parents have to contribute exactly the same amount to their children's upkeep?