CALLS FOR “ROOT AND BRANCH REVIEW” OF CHILD MAINTENANCE

23rd July 2019

SNP MP CALLS FOR REFORMS TO BENEFIT ALL PARENTS AND CHILDREN

SNP MP, Marion Fellows, today in Parliament called for a “root and branch review” of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to ensure a “crack down” on enforcement, an end to the 4% Maintenance Tax, a change to the way in which calculations are made, and drastic improvements to the standard of service.

The latest quarterly Department for Work and Pensions figures show CMS arrears rose from £966 million to £973.4 million between December 2018 and March 2019 – an increase of £7.4 million.

Between the same months, £58.5 million was owed under CMS’s Collect and Pay service– where CMS monitor and pursue collections – but only £40.6 million was paid.

33% of cases under Collect and Pay have paid nothing. The remaining 67% can only be guaranteed to have “paid some maintenance”.

Mrs Fellows wants an end to the 4% Maintenance Tax incurred by parents with care who rely on CMS to calculate and potentially collect payments – even if they’re the victim of domestic abuse and if their ex-partner has a proven record of non-payment.

Scottish Tory MP, Stephen Kerr, suggested he also opposed the UK Government’s Maintenance Tax stating:

“I still don’t really understand why the receiving parent should have to pay 4% on an ongoing basis.

“Why should they have to go on paying a fee on what is being collected for their children?”

To make the system fairer for non-resident parents, Mrs Fellows said the change in income threshold at which a paying parent can amend their payments must be lowered from 25% to ensure more accurate calculations.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“With child maintenance arrears approaching £1billion, children are losing out. The UK Government must conduct a full root and branch review of the Child Maintenance Service and ensure a cultural shift towards enforcement to crack down on non-payment and an improvement to the standard of service.

“The review must include an assessment on the impact of the 4% Maintenance Tax on families. The UK Government should not be depriving children of essential support just because a parent evades their responsibilities, or another is the victim of domestic abuse. This is a continuation of abuse.

“Non-resident parents are being treated unfairly when changes to their calculations can only be made if their income changes by more than 25%. This must be lowered so wealthier parents with increases pay more to their children and lower income parents who incur a pay cut are not disproportionately impacted.

“MPs of all parties have roundly and rightly criticised the CMS. We all agree there is a legal and moral responsibility on parents to financially support their children. If they opt to evade their responsibilities, then it is the UK Government must ensure they cannot.”