‘USELESS’ TORY TWEAKS SEE CHILD MAINTENANCE ARREARS SOAR OVER £1bn

27th February 2020

SNP MP: ACTION FROM UK GOVERNMENT IS WORKING FOR NO-ONE

Tory tweaks to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) billed as improving compliance have been branded as “completely useless” by an SNP MP.

Marion Fellows MP slammed the new powers, which were introduced in December 2018 and allow the CMS to suspend and disqualify passports. Answers to a parliamentary question have revealed that they have been used only seven times in the space of a year.

Arrears accrued under the CMS have grown from £240.8m in September 2018 to £315.3m in September 2019. Including debt transferred from the Child Support Agency (CSA), arrears now total over £1bn.

In 2018, the UK Government voted through measures to write off £2.5bn of arrears accrued under the older CSA. The SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, says that a failure to use powers is putting CMS on a path to another “multi-billion pound arrears write-off”.

Recently, Children’s charity Gingerbread revealed that if correct maintenance due was paid, one in five single-parent families could be lifted out of poverty.

Marion Fellows MP said:

“The Tory government’s tweaks to the Child Maintenance Service have proven completely useless, helping neither paying nor receiving parents. 

“As arrears soar over £1bn, it’s clear that tinkering at the edges is failing children – who should be at the heart of this process. Only a root and branch review of the CMS can ensure that all parents are treated fairly and children get the support they deserve and avoid another shocking multi-billion pound arrears write-off.

“Gingerbread research has shown that one in five single-parent families could be lifted out of poverty. The time for the UK government to act is now.

“Westminster already holds the levers to make the system truly fit-for-purpose, and the Tory government must now use the powers already at its disposal to deliver for the children who need it most.”