Child Maintenance helps parents who are no longer together work out a financial arrangement to cover their child’s living costs. The receiving person of Child Maintenance is the parent who has the main day-to-day care of the child, and the paying parent does not have main care. Payments and processes are overseen Child Maintenance Service, who can help in particularly acrimonious or challenging circumstances.
However, the service has recently come under fire for its approach to families during the pandemic, with one MP describing the system as “fundamentally broken”.
Marion Fellows, the SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, was speaking in Parliament about the operation of Child Maintenance during COVID-19.
She highlighted issues with the way the system currently runs due to the pressures of the pandemic, stating the service was “failing many families even before COVID-19 struck”.
Ms Fellows said: “The CMS is letting down parents with care and non-resident parents, but it is ultimately the children and young people the CMS is supposed to serve who are being deprived of the maintenance payments necessary for their upkeep.”
The receiving parent will get these payments directly into their bank account to support their child.
Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southhampton North, also commented on the matter, harshly criticising those who dodge payments.
She said: “I think there is a special place in hell for those who go out of their way to disguise income to prevent their former partner from being able to feed their children, or to buy school shoes or a new winter coat.
“I think it is crucial we recognise that the CMS is working in incredibly difficult times, and that it has many challenges in front of it.
“However, it is critical that paying parents and parents with care are given the support they need at this difficult time.”
Unfortunately, the issue of non-payment is one which has been raised in the past.
Recently, the CMS secured £40,000 payments for two single mothers whose former partners were avoiding payment for 11 and 10 years respectively.
Court proceedings were pursued, and payments granted when forced sale orders were put on the fathers’ houses.
Guy Opperman, who appeared at the debate in place of Baroness Stedman-Scott spoke on behalf of the DWP at the time.
He assured those listening to the debate that the Minister concerned, within 28 days, would meet with colleagues raising specific cases concerning Child Maintenance.
Mr Opperman concurred with the statements made by Ms Nokes, and highlighted the issue of maintenance avoidance.
He stated clients can request a mandatory reconsideration, or appeal the decision should they not be satisfied with the outcome.
The CMS has now enforced payments where possible throughout the pandemic, with £25.7million collected from paying parents with a ‘deduction from earnings order’ in force – a method used to make sure those with responsibilities pay the sum they owe.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for comment on the matter.
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