Wigan parents in maintenance arrears shock

Almost four out of 10 separated parents are behind on payments
Almost four out of 10 separated parents are behind on payments

Nearly 40 per cent of parents who pay their child maintenance through a government scheme in Wigan are failing to fork out to their ex-partners.

Newly released figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that around 880 parents were due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service in Wigan between April and June 2018.

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Of them, 38 per cent had their payments in arrears - down from 39 per cent in the first quarter of 2018.

The charity for single-parent families, Gingerbread, said the rate of non-compliance in Britain, about 37 per cent, is “worryingly high”.

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

The CMS can take money from a parent’s earnings or their bank account if they try to avoid payments, or take a parent to court.

From July to September, the best payment rate was in Orkney Islands, in Scotland, where only 22 per cent of parents failed to pay. The poorest record was in Tandridge, the South East, where 51 per cent of parents did not meet their obligations to their children.

The Child Maintenance Service can also calculate the amount of child support to be paid and parents can make the arrangements themselves - a scheme called Direct Pay.

In Wigan, 1,680 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.

Sumi Rabindrakumar, research officer at Gingerbread, 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.

“With over £200m in unpaid maintenance, the Government risks repeating the same mistakes as the old Child Support Agency. Without reform, too many children will continue to go without the support they deserve.”