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SNP CALL FOR UK GOV TO SUPPORT CHILDREN WITH MINIMUM MAINTENANCE PAYMENT AND PROPER ENFORCEMENT

Today, SNP MP Marion Fellows has called for the UK Government to support children and “get a grip” of rising debt owed under the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

As of September 2020, recorded arrears have accumulated to £379.2m – 9% of all maintenance that should have been paid. Therefore, almost £1 of every £10 is not being delivered.

In her debate in Parliament today, Mrs Fellows called again for the UK Government to introduce a Minimum Maintenance Payment to provide parents-with-care and their children a guaranteed income. A call also backed by single-parent charity Gingerbread.

Mrs Fellows also repeated the SNP’s calls for a root and branch review of the CMS with an end to the 4% ‘Maintenance Tax’ on receiving parents where enforcement is required which taxed £33.3million from children in 2018/19.

The SNP also called for enforcement powers to be used to clear the debt. Since 2019, only three passports have been confiscated and no driving licenses.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The Child Maintenance Service is in crisis. There must be an urgent and root and branch review. Children are being forgotten by the UK Government during the pandemic when they should be the top priority. With arrears rising to £379.2m, the UK Government needs to get a grip of the maintenance crisis.

“A Minimum Maintenance Payment would ensure a dignified standard of living for children and prevent them facing hardship. A willingness from CMS to use the powers at its disposal will also deliver full and timely maintenance and clear the millions of pounds of debt.

“The UK Government also needs to end the punitive 4% Maintenance Tax on children. The CMS should be delivering financial support for children. Instead, they are taking food from children’s tables, energy out of their utility meters, and clothes off their backs.

“In stark contrast, the Scottish Government is using its devolved powers to deliver an additional £10 per week to families through the Scottish Child Payment, and also providing support through the Best Start Grant, the Baby Box and free school meals over school holidays.”

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SNP BACK COURT ACTION AGAINST CHILD MAINTENANCE SERVICE

“UK GOV MUST INTRODUCE MINIMUM MAINTENANCE PAYMENT NOW”

The SNP are backing single-parents and child rights campaigners who are seeking a judicial review into unpaid child maintenance.

Campaigners have called for a review of the Child Maintenance Service and for effective enforcement action to be taken in the collection of maintenance arrears – calls that have repeatedly been made by campaigning SNP MP Marion Fellows. The Motherwell and Wishaw MP has also called for the introduction of a minimum maintenance payment.

DWP figures show that 43% of children covered by Collect and Pay – where CMS collects maintenance on parents’ behalf – are not receiving a penny of the maintenance they are legally entitled to. There are £354m of CMS arrears, yet just £31m has been collected through CMS enforcement actions – less than 10% of the figure that is owed.

The single-parent charity Gingerbread says that for families living in poverty, the proper payment of child maintenance could lift 60% out of poverty.

Commenting, Marion Fellows MP said:

“For years, the UK Government has ignored warnings from myself and others that the Child Maintenance Service is totally unfit for purpose in the collection of arrears and that it requires a root and branch review. I’m glad that campaigners are taking the fight to the UK Government and seeking justice through the courts to get what they and their children are entitled to.

“This will be a moment of reckoning for the UK Government. They must heed our calls and introduce a Minimum Maintenance Payment now. Families must be guaranteed a dignified standard of living to prevent them being forced further into poverty, which is currently being exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.

“Arrears have been allowed to grow out of control and into hundreds of millions. Families have been forced to turn to foodbanks and into debt, with many having to choose between heating and eating. The abandonment of single-parents – the vast majority of whom are women – and their children has been unacceptable. The UK Government cannot ignore families any longer.”

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Covid-19 Latest News

CHILDREN GOING WITHOUT MAINTENANCE

Children cannot be forgotten amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Where a parent-with-care is not receiving payments or where calculations have been reduced because a non-residents parent’s income has been cut, the UK Government must step in and provide Minimum Maintenance Payments directly.

Most non-resident parents are continuing to support their children during this difficult time. But some are using the pandemic to unjustly lower calculations and halt payments altogether. With almost half of single-parent families living in poverty, the UK Government cannot simply abandon them. An increase in Child Benefit and an MMP will protect children from the hardship caused by the pandemic.

I wrote to Thérèse Coffey (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) on the 30th of March. I still haven’t received a response. I hope she is considering these proposals carefully and looking seriously at how these vulnerable children can be supported.

For further info, click here.

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PARENTS HIT BY REDUCED CHILD MAINTENANCE PAYMENTS MUST BE SUPPORTED


SNP URGE UK GOVERNMENT TO PREVENT CHILDREN SLIDING INTO POVERTY

Campaigning SNP MP Marion Fellows has urged the UK government to provide an additional standard payment for parents-with-care not receiving child maintenance support (CMS) after a rise in child poverty in the UK and the economic impact of Coronavirus.

The MP for Motherwell and Wishaw issued the call after being contacted by a number of parents-with-care in her constituency desperate for help due to non-resident parents paying reduced CMS payments – as low as £7 per week or National Insurance Level – or no payment at all due to the Coronavirus crisis.

The SNP has proposed that where parents-with-care haven’t been receiving their maintenance or receiving a reduced payment, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) top up payments up to a minimum maintenance amount.

Mrs Fellows has consistently campaigned to make CMS fairer and urges the DWP to make this move without delay to ensure children are shielded from the worst of the Coronavirus crisis economic impact.

The SNP has already urged the government to increase Child Benefit and scrap the two-child cap – two key actions to ensure children do not slide into, or further into, poverty and hardship. Statistics released yesterday show that child poverty in the UK is no longer rising in Scotland.

Commenting, Marion Fellows MP said:

“A child’s tummy cannot be filled on £7 a week or whatever the National Insurance Level equivalent is – it is vital that the UK government introduce a standard rate CMS payment to ensure our children are not forgotten amidst this pandemic.

“Many non-resident parents’ incomes have been hit by the outbreak of COVID-19 and are trying their best to support their children. Some, however, are using it as an excuse to stop paying all together. The UK Government must step in to prevent either of these circumstances impacting on children.

“I welcome the steps the UK government has already taken to address the economic impact of this crisis – and thank all the governments in the UK for working flat out to address it. But as my colleagues and I are finding out daily, there is more work to be done and a standard rate CMS payment will go a long way to achieving that.

“If you are experiencing financial hardship there are places you can go for information and security nets out there to help you – including Universal Credit, the Scottish Welfare Fund, and your local representatives. I would urge people to find out what they are eligible for through the Scottish and UK government websites and apply immediately.”

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

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.” 

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MARION READY TO HIT CAMPAIGN TRAIL

JOBS, PUBLIC SERVICES AND SCOTLAND’S WILL KEY PRIORITIES

The SNP’s candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows, has said she is ready to fight the December General Election and will put jobs, public services and Scotland’s sovereignty first.

Elected as the Member of Parliament in 2015, Mrs Fellows acts as the SNP’s Small Business spokesperson at Westminster and has fought against Tory austerity policies such unfair disability assessments, unpaid child maintenance, low pay and precarious work, and the managed decline of the public Post Office network locally and nationally.

Locally, Marion has fought to protect libraries and bin collections from the Labour-Tory Council Coalition cuts, the Autism One-Stop Shop, Overtown village status; and called for action by the council on rat infestations, improvements to the railway bridge in Cleland and the Shieldmuir station park and ride, and litter and chip vans.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“I am ready to fight this election for communities in Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill. A vote for the SNP is a vote to protect Scotland’s jobs, public services and the democratic will of the Scottish people. I will fight Scotland’s corner against any UK Government and protect our right to decide our EU membership with a peoples’ vote. Scotland must have the right to choose its own future.

“If Labour aren’t fighting each other, they’re cosying up to the Tories by voting for Johnson’s damaging Brexit deal or being in coalition with them in North Lanarkshire Council. Labour are all over the place. But the SNP are clear: we want to stop the Tories and protect Scotland’s sovereignty.

“I am fighting for the disabled denied Personal Independence Payments; families pushed into poverty by Universal Credit; workers earning poverty wages on zero-hours contracts; the small businesses put to the bottom of the pile; the WASPI women denied their pensions; the children living in poverty who have been denied the support to secure them a promising future.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working for and representing communities over the past four years. I want to keep fighting for them.”

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MP MARION READY TO FIGHT ELECTION AND BRING DOWN TORIES

MARION FELLOWS RE-SELECTED AS SNP CANDIDATE FOR MOTHERWELL & WISHAW

Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, was today re-selected by local branches as the SNP’s candidate for the next Westminster General Election and says she is ready to fight a snap election to bring down the Tories.

Marion says she will continue to prioritise the same three issues she always has: defending Scottish sovereignty; opposing austerity and supporting investment in jobs and services; and halting the Tories’ Brexit plans.

Marion has spearheaded campaigns to protect the Post Office network locally and nationally; making the Child Maintenance Service fairer for families; raising awareness of Autistic Spectrum Conditions; and improve access to lifechanging Cystic Fibrosis drugs.

Marion served as a Wishaw Councillor from 2012 to 2015 when she was elected as the Member of Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw and re-elected again in 2017.

Commenting, Marion Fellows said:

“It has always been a privilege to fight for the wonderful communities in Motherwell, Wishaw and Bellshill. I’m elated my branch has re-selected me as their candidate. The SNP is ready to fight an election at any time and bring down the Tory Government.

“We need to halt Brexit so we can continue trading to protect jobs and services. We need to end austerity and invest in people and our economy. We need to defend the will of Scotland’s people and Parliament and stop the Westminster power grab.

“Corbyn’s Labour and the Tories are in engaged in full-blown civil wars. Labour has failed to form a coherent position on Brexit and the Tories’ position is tearing communities apart. The SNP has a clear plan to stop austerity and Brexit.

“I know the struggles of local, hardworking people. Johnson and his pals don’t. It will be ordinary families, not the Tories, who will pay the price of a no deal Brexit and continued austerity.”E

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CALLS FOR “ROOT AND BRANCH REVIEW” OF CHILD MAINTENANCE

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.”

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PMQs: CALLS FOR ‘CRACK DOWN’ ON CHILD MAINTENANCE

SNP MP CALLS FOR ‘ROOT AND BRANCH REVIEW’

SNP MP, Marion Fellows, today at Prime Minister’s Questions called for a “root and branch” review of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and for a “crack down” on enforcement of payments.

Department for Work and Pensions figures released today 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”.

The UK Government introduced new measures, such as confiscating passports, in December 2018. But the DWP predicts that only 20 passports will be confiscated in the first year.

Last year, the UK Government wrote off £1.2 billion of historic CSA arrears and are seeking to wipe out an additional £1.3 billion instead of moving arrears to the new CMS.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The UK Government has to crack down on enforcing payments to ensure children receive their maintenance rights. New powers are welcome, but when £973 million of arrears have built up under the Child Maintenance Service and are increasing, it’s obvious it requires an urgent root and branch review.

“Confiscating passports is a start, but it isn’t delivering maintenance payments. When charities like Gingerbread say maintenance can lift one in five children out poverty, there needs to be a will to act on the evidence. Even cases under Collect and Pay are not being enforced with millions in non-payment each month.

“We have heard stories from parents that the Child Maintenance Service is rife with problems, from calculations to enforcement to customer service. A full root and branch review is needed to ensure fairness for both parents, but ultimately it is the children who are losing out.

“We can’t allow another situation where the Tories allow billions in maintenance to accrue only to write it off. We need action.”

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MUM OWED £19,000 IN CHILD MAINTENANCE

Full story here.

The Tories’ Child Maintenance Service has teeth, but is not prepared to use them. This is preventing children from getting the support they are entitled to.

New powers to CMS are obviously welcome, but there’s no point if CMS will not use them and continue to allow parents to evade their responsibilities.

There needs to be urgent action on enforcement of current and past cases. Not content with cutting state support to vulnerable people, the UK Government is also happy to allow parents to opt out of supporting their own children.