Bad news – but Gingerbread will fight on!

Posted 15 December 2023

Today, the court has ruled in the case on the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) that we have been involved with.  We’re sorry to say it’s not good news.

The case was brought by a group of single parents and the children of single parents. Together they argued that problems with the CMS are causing them “significant and prolonged financial difficulties”. They argued that the way the CMS operates, including the insufficient enforcement of payment obligations against non-resident parents, was discriminatory and unlawful. They also argued that the Government needed to better support victim-survivors of domestic abuse in running the CMS.

We had hoped to see significant reform of the CMS as a result of the case. But we’re incredibly disappointed that today, the judge ruled in favour of the Government and agreed with them that the way the system is being operated is lawful.

Gingerbread got involved with the case to share our expertise and knowledge. We hear day in, day out from single parents who tell us that they are owed thousands of pounds from their child’s other parent. All too often they tell us that the CMS is failing to put enforcement action in place. And what’s worse, we hear from single parents who say the system is allowing their ex-partner to perpetuate economic abuse.  We  also know that:

  • 140,000 children are not receiving a penny of the maintenance they are legally entitled to
  • since 2012, when the CMS began, £590.6 million in unpaid maintenance has accumulated
  • if child maintenance were paid in full to all children in separated families living in poverty who currently do not receive financial support from their other parent, it would have the potential to lift 60% of them out of poverty.

We believe that there’s something seriously wrong with a Child Maintenance Service that leaves so many children without the support they deserve. It’s clear that we have an uphill struggle to change the system.

Right now, we’re looking ahead to the next election.  . We’ve been talking to all political parties about the need to reform the CMS. But we know that there are other issues which matter to single parents too.

We’re running a survey on what our priorities should be. We’re asking single parents to tell us what matters to them, so we can make sure your voice is heard!

We’re also about to start a new project researching the challenges of the CMS and developing with single parents clear recommendations for reform. This will help us make the case for change with any new Government. More information will be available on this in the new year.



Take our survey and tell us the issues that matter most to you!