Areas with highest unpaid child maintenance in Britain revealed

Posted 26 October 2016

New research from Gingerbread reveals levels of unpaid child maintenance around the country.

Single parents living in a West Yorkshire constituency are owed more than £6.6m in unpaid child maintenance, topping figures published today by Gingerbread [1].

Nationally, unpaid child maintenance stands at close to £4bn, and today Gingerbread is revealing where the CSA has failed to collect the most money for single parents, from their child’s other parent. Gingerbread is calling on MPs across the country to back its campaign to improve the child maintenance system, and ask the government to take action to collect unpaid maintenance.

Areas with the highest arrears
1. Normanton, Pontefract and Castleton – £6.64m
2. Milton Keynes South – £6.26m
3. Great Grimsby – £6.25m
4. Telford – £6.13m
5. Nottingham North – £6.07m

Areas with the lowest arrears
1. Na h-Eileanan an Iar – £0.87m
2. Sheffield Hallam – £1.15m
3. Cities of London and Westminster – £1.18m
4. Enfield, Southgate – £1.37m
5. Wimbledon – £1.44m

The government is closing the CSA and all CSA arrears are being transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS). Parents with children who have a CSA case will have to reapply to its replacement, the CMS if they want their CSA arrears collected. Gingerbread has found that as the CSA winds down, the agency is doing even less to collect on the huge debts that have accrued [2]. Meanwhile, it is unclear how much effort the new CMS is making to collect former CSA arrears which have been transferred to it so far [3].

The average child maintenance debt owed to more than a million families who use the CSA is £2,067 [4], money that Gingerbread argues could make a huge difference to families’ lives.

Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “Bringing up children costs money – they need clothes, food and a warm home – and both parents have a responsibility to contribute financially. The failure of the CSA to collect these millions of pounds of child maintenance means that children are going without and single parents have been left poorer. Child poverty in single parent families is set to double in the next four years, so it’s even more essential that this money is collected. [5]

“The CSA and its successor the CMS should be doing all they can to ensure that families get the financial support they are owed. They have many powers at their disposal but in reality both are slow to act when parents don’t pay and single parents are left shouldering the costs of raising a child alone.

“We ask MPs to back our campaign to ensure that separated families get a child maintenance system that is fit for purpose.”

Less than half of single parent families in the UK have any child maintenance arrangements in place [6].

To find out how much child maintenance is owed in your area go to


Notes to editors
1. DWP data provided to Gingerbread under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, giving CSA arrears totals at the end of March 2016
2. CSA debt collection performance each quarter has dropped from more than £35 collected per case with arrears in December 2012, to £22 per case by March 2016. DWP:CSA Quarterly Statistics March 2016). Tables 9 and 10.
3. At the end of March 2016, £153.3m in CSA arrears had been transferred to the CMS (Commons Written Answer 37683). No government information has yet been published on the progress of the CMS in collecting these arrears..
4. Missing Maintenance, Gingerbread 2016
5. Browne, J. and Hood, A. (2016) Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2015-16 to 2020-21. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.
6. Less than half (38 per cent) of single parents receive child maintenance. Maplethorpe, N. et al (2010) Families with children in Britain: Findings from the 2008 Families and Children Study (FACS). London: DWP.

20 areas with highest arrears:
1 Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford £6,635,000
2 Milton Keynes South £6,262,000
3 Great Grimsby £6,250,000
4 Telford £6,126,000
5 Nottingham North £6,069,000
6 Halton £6,020,000
7 Portsmouth North £5,966,000
8 Knowsley £5,965,000
9 Sittingbourne and Sheppey £5,896,000
10 Gillingham and Rainham £5,881,000
11 Isle of Wight £5,832,000
12 Milton Keynes North £5,772,000
13 Kingston upon Hull East £5,666,000
14 Doncaster North £5,662,000
15 Havant £5,611,000
16 Croydon Central £5,604,000
17 Wolverhampton North East £5,603,000
18 Colchester £5,545,000
19 Wythenshawe and Sale East £5,538,000
20 Chatham and Aylesford £5,530,000

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