Nearly 200 dodge child maintenance in Northumberland

Nearly 200 parents in Northumberland failed to pay child maintenance during the latest lockdown, new figures show.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 4:34 pm

Department for Work and Pensions data shows 185 parents failed to pay anything through the Child Maintenance Service’s collect and pay system between January and March.

The figure show 25% out of 747 single parents using the service paid no maintenance over the three-months, 24 paid 30% of what they owed and 71 paid between 30% and 60% of what was due.

Nationally, 42,000 parents did not pay any child maintenance in the three months to March – 28% of those using collect and pay.

Separated parents can be forced to use the collect and pay scheme if they cannot agree a sum or one of them has not kept up the payments.

The CMS is supposed to take money directly from someone’s bank account if they try to avoid payment but, between December and the end of March, overall arrears owed through collect and pay increased by £12.5m.

Victoria Benson, chief executive of single parent charity Gingerbread, said the CMS's enforcement was ineffective.

She said: "The CMS allows non-paying parents to build up huge arrears under collect and pay.

The paying parent must also foot a 20% charge to use collect and pay, while the other sees four per cent deducted from what they receive.

Ms Benson added: “Children are going without. It cannot be right that a Government service is responsible for this.”

The DWP said the fees were intended to provide both parents with an incentive to collaborate.