Child Maintenance Service: Half of Tower Hamlets parents fail to make payments

The Child Maintenance Service can calculate the amount of child support to be paid. Pic: PA

The Child Maintenance Service can calculate the amount of child support to be paid. Pic: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Nearly half of parents in Tower Hamlets who have their child maintenance payments controlled by the government failed to pay in the first three months this year.

Newly-released figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 320 parents were due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service, but around 150 failed to do so.

Numbers provided by the government are rounded to the nearest ten, but the DWP says that 45.8per cent failed to make their payments between January and March this year.

The proportion of parents failing to pay in Tower Hamlets is up from 43.3pc over the last quarter of 2017.

At the start of this year, the best performance was in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, where only 24.1pc of parents failed to pay. The poorest record was in Rutland, East Midlands, where 55.3pc of parents did not meet their obligations to their children.

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This payment service, called Collect & Pay, is part of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which was set up in 2012 to replace the Child Support Agency (CSA).

The Child Maintenance Service can calculate the amount of child support to be paid and parents can arrange the payments between themselves - a mechanism called Direct Pay.

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In Tower Hamlets, 580 parents made Direct Pay arrangements over the first three months of 2018.

But in the cases where parents cannot do this or there is a disagreement about payment, the Collect & Pay service can collect and manage the payments between the parents.

The CMS can take money from a parent’s earnings or their bank account if they try to avoid payments, or take a parent to court.

The charity for single-parent families, Gingerbread, said the latest figures for parents with outstanding child support debts are “worryingly high”.

Sumi Rabindrakumar, research officer at Gingerbread, said: “Child maintenance alone lifts a fifth of low-income single parent families out of poverty. But sadly, we regularly hear from single parents whose children are not receiving the support they are owed even when using the Collect & Pay service.

“With £200 million child maintenance debt already built up under this specific service, excluding any debts for the many who don’t use Collect & Pay, there’s a real danger of the government repeating the failings of the previous Child Support Agency unless they act now.”

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