MP CALLS FOR LEGAL RECOURSE FOR FAMILIES AS UK GOV ‘WEASELS OUT OF RESPONSIBILITIES’
Yesterday, the UK Government succeeded in a vote which could see £2.5billion of child maintenance owed to families and young people under the Child Support Agency (CSA) completely wiped out while parents are denied access to courts.
Parents with non-paying debt over £1000 (for applications made before November 2008) or £500 (for applications made after November 2008) will receive a letter to ask if they want arrears collected. Letters will not contain how much is owed.
Parents then have 60 days to respond to say they do or arrears will be wiped.
Of those who do want arrears collected, the UK Government’s arrears strategy states that they will only pursue them “if there is a reasonable chance of collection” which is determined by factors such as if a parent’s address can be found and what previous enforcement action was taken.
If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refuse to collect, families have no automatic right to the courts to pursue justice.
With the vote, £1.2 billion owed by parents to the Government was immediately written off.
Commenting, SNP MP Marion Fellows said:
The UK Government is reneging on its responsibilities to young adults and parents by attempting to wipe out £2.5billion of child support arrears.
The UK Government isn’t recognising the positive impact maintenance can still have on the lives of parents and young adults which they were neglected of in their formative, younger years.
By omitting arrears from letters, only pursuing arrears at a parent’s request and using a seemingly arbitrary criteria for collection, the UK Government is trying to weasel out of its responsibilities.
If parents won’t pay and the DWP won’t collect, court action must be automatically afforded to parents.
The DWP has to face up to the failings of the past under the CSA and its current failings under the Child Maintenance Service. Families are all owed an apology, but ultimately their maintenance.