Wigan parents struggling due to lack of child maintenance payments

Hundreds of Wigan parents are struggling financially because their estranged partners are failing to pay child maintenance.

Thursday, 11th October 2018, 12:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th October 2018, 1:38 pm
Hundreds of parents are not getting their child support money

Nearly 40% of mums and dads who have their payments controlled by the Government are failing to pay their ex-partners.

Newly released figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that around 850 parents were due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service in Wigan between April and June 2018, but 39.4% of them had their payments in arrears.

The proportion of parents with payments in arrears in Wigan is down from 41.3% in the first quarter of 2018, but the charity for single-parent families Gingerbread said the rate of noncompliance is “worryingly high”.

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This payment service, called 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.

At the start of this year, the best performance was in the Orkney Islands, in Scotland, where only 22.7% of parents failed to pay. The poorest record was in Tandridge, the South East, where 51.7% 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 without the direct control of the Government - a mechanism called Direct Pay.

In Wigan, 1,650 parents made Direct Pay arrangements from April to June 2018.

At the end of June 2018, three quarters of paying parents in the CMS in Britain were using Direct Pay and a quarter 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.”