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Nearly half of parents in Havering fail to pay child maintenance under government scheme

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 June 2018

Nearly half of the parents who have their child maintenance payments controlled by the government failed to pay in the first three months of 2018. Picture: PA/Edmond Terakopian

Nearly half of the parents who have their child maintenance payments controlled by the government failed to pay in the first three months of 2018. Picture: PA/Edmond Terakopian

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Nearly half of Havering parents who have their child maintenance payments controlled by the government failed to pay in the first three months of 2018.

Newly released figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 350 parents were due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service in Havering, but about 180 did not pay.

Numbers provided by the government are rounded to the nearest 10, but the DWP says that 48.6per cent failed to make their payments between January and March this year.

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 Havering, 860 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 account if they try to avoid payments, or take a parent to court.

Over the three-month period to March 2018, about 1,190 paying parents in the council required the intervention of the Child Maintenance Service.

The charity for single-parent families, Gingerbread, said the latest figures for parents with outstanding child support debts are “worryingly high”.

Sumi Rabindrakumar, research officer at Gingerbread, said: “Child maintenance alone lifts a fifth of low-income single parent families out of poverty.

“With £200million 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.

“The Child Maintenance Service must put in place stronger systems and resource to make sure that children do not go without the financial support they need.”

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