Nearly 40 per cent of the parents ordered to pay child maintenance are still failing to do so

PUBLISHED: 12:57 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:57 10 May 2019

Nearly seven in 10 single parents are being let down by the child maintenance pay system. Picture: Radar

Nearly seven in 10 single parents are being let down by the child maintenance pay system. Picture: Radar

Archant

Nearly 40 per cent of parents, who have been ordered to pay child maintenance, are failing to do so.

Charity Gingerbread, which supports single parent families, says the current system is not sufficient to deter parents from underpaying or paying late.

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that around 280 parents were due to pay support through the Collect and Pay scheme in East Devon between October and December 2018, covering 410 children.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is supposed to take money directly from these parents' earnings or their bank account if they try to avoid payments, and can eventually take them to court.

Despite this, 36 per cent had not made any payment in East Devon - though this was down from 44 per cent the previous year.

From October to December, the best payment rate was in the Shetland Islands, in Scotland, where only 25 per cent of parents failed to pay. The poorest record was in Mole Valley, in South West England, where 58 per cent of parents did not meet their financial obligations to their children.

The Child Maintenance Service, which agrees payment of child support with parents, can alternatively calculate the amount of child support to be paid and parents can make the arrangements themselves - a scheme called Direct Pay.

In East Devon, 570 parents made Direct Pay arrangements from October to December 2018, covering 870 children.

At the end of 2018, two-thirds of parents paying child maintenance in Britain were using Direct Pay and a third the Collect and Pay Service.

Anant Naik, from Gingerbread, said many parents feel frustrated by CMS inaction over outstanding payments.

"These figures are a reality check for the Government and prove that the CMS is failing huge numbers of hard-working single parents.

"Our research has already revealed shortcomings in the system's design and functionality and that almost seven in 10 single parents are being let down by the Collect and Pay system, meaning they are left to support their children single-handedly.

"Collect and Pay charges must be scrapped for receiving parents, payment compliance must be much more closely monitored for strengthened case management, and transparent service standards should be introduced, backed up by rigorous training for staff."

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