Third of parents not paying child maintenance

January 29 2019

MORE than a third of parents who pay their child maintenance through a government scheme in Bristol are failing to pay their ex-partners.

New figures show that, of around 900 parents due to pay support through the Child Maintenance Service in Bristol between April and June last year, 35% were in arrears.

The figure was down from 36% three months earlier and below the national average of 37%.

Single-parent families charity Gingerbread said the number of people failing to pay up is "worryingly high".

The government payment service, Collect & Pay, is part of the Child Maintenance Service, which was set up in 2012 to replace the Child Support Agency.

It has the power to take money from a parent's earnings or bank account if they try to avoid payments, or take a parent to court.

Parents can make arrangements to pay themselves after the CMS calculates the amount of child support to be paid: a scheme called Direct Pay. In Bristol, 1,550 parents made Direct Pay arrangements from July to September 2018. At the end of September 2018, two thirds of parents paying maintenance in Britain were using Direct Pay and a third the Collect & Pay Service.

Gingerbread research officer Sumi Rabindrakumar said: ""With over £200 million in unpaid maintenance, the Government risks repeating the same mistakes as the old Child Support Agency. Without reform, too many children will continue to go without the support they deserve."