Published: 00:01, 12 July 2018
Nearly half of the parents who have their child maintenance payments controlled by the government in Gravesham failed to pay in the first three months of 2018.
Newly-released figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 220 parents were due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service in the borough, but about 120 did not pay.
Numbers provided by the government are rounded to the nearest 10, but the DWP says that 45.7% failed to make their payments between January and March this year. The proportion of parents failing to pay in Gravesham is down from 50.5% over the last quarter of 2017. At the start of this year, the best performance was in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, where only 24.1% of parents failed to pay.
The poorest record was in Rutland, East Midlands, where 55.3% of parents did not meet their obligations to their children. 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 (CSA).
The Child Maintenance Service can calculate the amount of child support to be paid and parents can arrange the payments between themselves - a mechanism called Direct Pay. In Gravesham, 440 parents made Direct Pay arrangements over the first three months of 2018. But in the cases where parents cannot do this or there is a disagreement about payment, the Collect & Pay service can collect and manage the payments between the parents. The CMS can take money from a parent’s earnings or their bank.
Sumi Rabindrakumar, Research Officer at Gingerbread, said: “Child maintenance alone lifts a fifth of low-income single parent families out of poverty. But sadly, we regularly hear from single parents whose children are not receiving the support they are owed even when using the Collect & Pay service.
“With £200 million child maintenance debt already built up under this specific service, excluding any debts for the many who don’t use Collect & Pay, there’s a real danger of the government repeating the failings of the previous Child Support Agency unless they act now.”
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