Third of parents using child maintenance payment service in arrears

January 29 2019
Third of parents using child maintenance payment service in arrears

MORE than a third of parents signed up to a government scheme to pay child maintenance are failing to pay their ex-partners.

New figures show that, of the 410 South Gloucestershire parents due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service between April and June last year, 35% were in arrears.

The figure is lower than the national average and down from the 37% reported three months earlier.

Single-parent families charity Gingerbread said the number of people failing to pay up is "worryingly high".

The government payment service, Collect & Pay, is part of the Child Maintenance Service, which was set up in 2012 to replace the Child Support Agency.

It has the power to take money from a parent's earnings or bank account if they try to avoid payments, or take a parent to court.

Parents can make arrangements to pay themselves after the CMS calculates the amount of child support to be paid: a scheme called Direct Pay. In South Gloucestershire, 1,170 parents made Direct Pay arrangements from July to September 2018.

At the end of September 2018, two thirds of parents paying maintenance in Britain were using Direct Pay and a third the Collect & Pay Service.

Gingerbread research officer Sumi Rabindrakumar said: "These figures show that the Government still needs to get to grips with unpaid child maintenance. Time and time again, parents come to Gingerbread frustrated by CMS inaction.

"This is not just about introducing more powers. The CMS must deal with cases more promptly and make better use of existing powers."

Miguel Rodriguez/RADAR