Gingerbread, alongside the Good Law Project and Mumsnet, is supporting four women who have issued a Letter Before Claim to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of their intention to seek Judicial Review due to the failure by the CMS to collect child maintenance payments from their children’s non-resident parent, leaving them and their children in financial difficulty and, in some cases, in poverty. We have received confirmation the letter has been received, and the claimants' representatives are finalising their respective applications for Legal Aid.

Why we are supporting this legal challenge

Gingerbread has long campaigned for improvements to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to ensure that children’s right to financial support is upheld.

Child maintenance (sometimes referred to as ‘child support’) is vital for separated families and the well-being of children.

Academic research has found that in the UK, for children of single parents, who are both in poverty and not receiving maintenance, child maintenance payments actually being received would lift them out of poverty in around 60% of all cases. [1]

Children growing up in poverty is unacceptable, especially when government has the resources at its disposal to change it.  This challenge will seek to ensure the CMS puts these resources to good use.

Children deserve better and urgent action is needed to #FixTheCMS.

More on Gingerbread's child maintenance policy position

How can you support the campaign to #FixTheCMS?

Help us to raise awareness about the campaign and make sure single parent voices are heard.

Sign our pledge to #FixTheCMS

“It is a child’s legal right to be supported by both parents, and yet the service designed to protect this right is failing the children. Even before COVID-19, there were already £335 million in unpaid arrears and over 100,000 children across the country not receiving a penny in maintenance. Despite a vast array of enforcement powers, CMS have shown extreme negligence in actually using them, collected an amount worth less than 10% of what is actually owed. It simply cannot be right that a government service can continually leave children of single parents in poverty without being held accountable.

COVID-19 means this problem is getting worse by the day. CMS are running a skeleton service, meaning they are now as a rule not enforcing payment and are allowing paying parents to reduce or withdraw maintenance payment without any proper evidence. This has already resulted in more single parent families losing out on maintenance payment which quite simply, can be the difference between having food on the table or not.

These children deserve better.”

Victoria Benson, CEO of Gingerbread

"Being a single parent is just about the toughest job in the country. What single parents really need is help from Government. But what they’d had is laws which remove their right to sue absent parents for financial support and an agency that fails to collect that money.

The Child Maintenance service - along with its predecessors - has failed single parents, usually mothers, for years. It is high time it was made fit for purpose. Good Law Project is proud to support this case."

Jolyon Maugham, Director, Good Law Project and a former Chair of Gingerbread

“Contributing towards the food on your child's table and the roof over their head is surely the minimum basic standard for being a decent parent, which makes the low priority accorded to enforcing child maintenance payments close to inexplicable. As countless single parents on Mumsnet will attest, the effects on children's physical and emotional wellbeing are profound. It's long past time for the Child Maintenance Service to do its job.”

Justine Roberts, CEO and Founder, Mumsnet

Related links