Unpaid child maintenance must not be ‘written off’

Posted 28 January 2015

Gingerbread responds to BBC report on unpaid child maintenance arrears.

The £3.9 billion in child maintenance payments still uncollected by the Child Support Agency must not be ignored or written off by the government, says the charity Gingerbread today following a BBC report this weekend on child maintenance arrears.

The latest figures show that £3.98 billion of child maintenance remains unpaid but the Department for Work and Pensions says it is only likely to collect £512 million [1].

More than £1 billion is owed to 726,000 single parents with a child aged under 18 [2]. The rest is owed to 532,000 families where the children in question are now adults [3]. Gingerbread argues that the government has a duty to secure the money owed for all of the affected families.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “This isn’t history, this is real money that matters. Single parents who have had to shoulder the cost of raising a child alone for years have told us about debts they have run up or how the thousands of pounds they are still owed would help their adult child with tuition fees, or to get a first step on the housing ladder. 

For parents still raising young children, regular child maintenance is vital, and arrears must be swiftly collected. The government should be doing all it can to secure the money owed.”

The charity is calling for the government to:

  • Ensure the CSA and its successor the new Child Maintenance System have an expert, dedicated and well-resourced arrears collection operation at its core.
  • Test out introducing arrears collection targets to give debt collection the importance it deserves.
  • Increase the use of its enforcement powers to collect maintenance arrears.
  • Deliver greater transparency and accountability to single parents who are owed child maintenance.

ENDS

Notes to editors
The Child Support Agency is being replaced by the Child Maintenance Service. All CSA cases will be closed by 2018 and parents will have to pay £20 to open a case. More information here.

[1] DWP Client Funds Account – Statutory child maintenance schemes 2013/14, DWP Dec 2014. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-maintenance-client-funds-account-2013-to-2014
[2] CSA Quarterly Summary of Statistics, September 2014, Table 16, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/377537/csa-qtr-summary-stats-sep2014.pdf. The number of arrears cases involving parents with dependent children is taken from Table 10 of the Quarterly Statistics  and Written Parliamentary Answer, Hansard 08/07/14, col 276W
[3] Ibid.

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *