Two in five Burnley parents fail to pay child maintenance
Two in five parents in Burnley who are required to pay their child maintenance through government intervention are still failing to pay their ex-partners.
The charity Gingerbread, which supports single-parent families, says that payments can lift single-parent families out of poverty and it is “simply not acceptable” that more than 100,000 children nationally are not receiving maintenance.
New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 130 parents did not pay support due through the Child Maintenance Service’s Collect and Pay scheme in Burnley between April and June this year.
Overall, the Collect and Pay scheme, which is implemented by the CMS when the parents cannot arrange the payments between themselves, covered 330 parents and 460 children in Burnley.
The numbers in the data are rounded to the nearest 10.
The CMS is supposed to take money directly from these parents' earnings or their bank account if they try to avoid payments, and can eventually take them to court.
Despite this, 39% had not made any payment in Burnley.
Across Great Britain, 33% of the 139,300 parents who had to pay through the Collect and Pay scheme failed to pay their child maintenance. Last year this figure stood at 38%.
The CMS, which agrees payment of child support with parents, can alternatively calculate the amount of child support to be paid and parents can make the arrangements themselves – a scheme called Direct Pay.
In Burnley, 580 parents made Direct Pay arrangements from April to June, covering 840 children.
As of June, two-thirds of parents paying child maintenance in Britain were using Direct Pay and a third the Collect and Pay Service.
Joe Richardson, research and policy officer at Gingerbread said: "We regularly hear from single parents who have battled long and hard, often without success, to secure child maintenance payments to cover the essential day-to-day costs of raising their child. These payments lift many single-parent families out of poverty.
"The CMS needs improvement – it is simply not acceptable that through just one part of the service, that is Collect and Pay, over 100,000 children are not receiving any maintenance payments.
"To achieve real impact the DWP must use its existing powers to enforce payments more rigorously, as well as providing supportive programmes for separating parents to encourage child maintenance payment."
Tallulah Perez-Sphar, from the Department of Work and Pensions, said that: "We’re committed to improving the way CMS works and we recently got new powers to tackle people who don’t pay what they owe.
“Every day we use civil enforcement action to secure payments on behalf of children and the amount being arranged is up 20% over the past year.
"We’re also doing much better at getting child maintenance debt legally recognised, through Liability orders – and that’s important because once that happens we can take really strong action like forcing the sale of property."
She added that, from April to June, the department worked on more than 2,000 sanctions, including taking away passports or driving licences and pursuing prison sentences, and more than 9,200 payments were made through enforcement agents.