Parents to lose CSA payments

THOUSANDS of separated Wigan parents could miss out on essential child maintenance payments.

Single parent charity Gingerbread have warned that as many as 8,420 parents in Wigan could be hit under the new scheme which will require former partners to pay up voluntarily.

Some will be forced to do without the money altogether while others will have to settle for inadequate, sporadic payments arranged privately.

The government is proposing that single parents who want to use CMEC should, from November 2012, pay an upfront application fee of £100 or £50 if they claim benefit, with £20 due straight away.

Gingerbread has written to local MPs pointing out what the changes will mean for local parents, and they are now urging worried parents to contact either Lisa Nandy or Yvonne Fovargue to air their concerns. Government research shows that nationally 64 per cent of parents caring for children and using the Child Support Agency (CSA) are not confident that they could make private child maintenance arrangements with their ex-partner, even with improved information and guidance services.

Gingerbread’s Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “The government wants parents to agree their own child maintenance arrangements instead of using the state scheme but that isn’t always possible – especially when there’s estrangement, conflict or a reluctance to pay.

“While Gingerbread is in favour of providing greater support to separating parents to help them co-operate over arrangements, imposing charges on those who can’t will only end up hurting children.”

The Welfare Reform Bill. set out by David Cameron on February 17, also included measures which will prevent separated parents with care of children from using the CSA unless they can show that they have taken steps to negotiate a private child support arrangement with their ex-partner.

And, the Bill says, parents with care will in future only be able to use the state scheme to collect child maintenance for them if their former partner agrees or if the state thinks that he or she won’t pay voluntarily.

Ms Weir added: “This will create delay and hardship for many single parents and their children.”

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