New report from Department for Work and Pensions reveals latest data on unpaid child maintenance arrears.
Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families, has responded to figures which reveal that the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is failing to collect millions of pounds in child maintenance.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ Client Funds Account on Statutory Child Maintenance Schemes 2014/15 report revealed that between March 2014 and March 2015, child maintenance arrears owed to children and due to be paid via the CMS collection service soared from £6.7m to £25.
This rise in money owed, just two years after the CMS launched, far outstrips the increase in the number of cases being dealt with by the CMS over the same period .
Of the maintenance charged in the year via the Collection Service – some £41.2 million – only 52.6 per cent (£21.7 million) was actually received in the year .
Chief Executive Fiona Weir said:
“It’s disappointing that, after being promised that the new Child Maintenance Service would be an improvement on its predecessor, the collection service is still underperforming. This is bad news for single parents who rely on the collection service because their child’s other parent has failed to pay. Firmer action is needed to bring arrears under control.
“It’s also worrying that in a new system which we were promised would be far more efficient and effective, the error rate is higher than in the current legacy systems.
“Parents, taxpayers and not least the children who are owed the money, have a right to expect better.”
“The rise in maintenance arrears is set against a backdrop where, despite millions of pounds in maintenance remaining uncollected, the Department for Work and Pensions itself has received £2.8m in fees paid by parents – money that could have gone to children. Parents who have paid their fees but are still waiting to receive the child maintenance owed therefore have a strong reason to be critical of the current CMS performance.”
Notes to editors
 Outstanding maintenance arrears relating to the new scheme collection service rose from £6.7m in March 2014 (when there were 45,000 cases) to £26m (£25,949,000)
in March 2015 when there were 116,300 cases. Thus the arrears appear to be rising at a far faster rate than the number of cases.
 See page 23 of Department for Work and Pensions’ Client Funds Account on Statutory Child Maintenance Schemes 2014/15
 Parents must pay a £20 fee to apply to use the new Child Maintenance Service. If the CMS collects payments on behalf of parents, paying parents must pay an extra 20 per cent on top of their usual child maintenance payment, while receiving parents will have 4 per cent deducted from their child maintenance payment.