Lucinda Connell, Senior Solicitor with Major Family Law, the North East’s top family law specialists, comments new figures from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) reveal that between August 2013 and August 2015, less than two years after opening its doors to all new applicants, £35 million of arrears owed to children has accumulated.
In response to these disappointing figures, Fiona Weir, Chief Executive of the UK charity which provides advice and support for single parents, Gingerbread, stated:
“These statistics raise questions about how seriously the new CMS is taking the non-payment of maintenance owed to children. With more than half of ‘paying’ parents associated with the maintenance arrears, this is disappointing for a new service where there is a clear government commitment to ensuring that children receive their child maintenance payments on time and in full. When maintenance doesn’t arrive, it means bills can’t get paid and children end up going without.
At a time when many single parents are facing tax credit cuts, high childcare costs and a range of other welfare reforms, the money separated parents pay to support their children matters more than ever.”
Gingerbread said that the figures come against a backdrop where a further £1bn of child maintenance arrears owed to children in existing Child Support Agency cases are going to be transferred to the CMS over the next three years for collection, raising questions about just how ready the CMS is to take on this load.