£2.9 billion of child maintenance arrears “uncollectable”

02/02/2015

£2.9 billion of child maintenance arrears “uncollectable”

On 25 January 2015 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published a press release in support of the Child Support Agency (CSA) after accounts prepared for Parliament by the DWP classified £2.9 billion of the £3.9 billion in maintenance arrears as “uncollectable”.

The DWP has provided reassurance that old debts would “not be forgotten” but explained that the focus was on debts for children who are still minors.

In the press release the DWP has highlighted the achievements of the CSA maintaining that the numbers of parents who are now paying towards the cost of their children through the CSA has hit an all-time high. Nearly 9 out of 10 parents within the CSA system are now contributing towards child maintenance to support their children.

The DWP goes on to state that in the past 12 months the CSA has helped to collect and arrange more than £1.2 billion of payments thanks to tougher enforcement action against parents who previously refused to pay as well as vastly improved processes. Last year 184,090 active Deduction from Earnings Orders were in place.

Alternative enforcement procedures include registering a charge against a property owned by a parent who refuses to contribute, using bailiffs to seize possessions and taking people to Court which could lead to a prison sentence or the loss of their driving licence for up to 2 years.

From March 2015, parents who steadfastly refuse to pay may also have their non-compliance disclosed to a credit reference agency, which may affect their credit rating, limiting their ability to borrow money through loans, mortgages or credit cards.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) was set up 21 years ago with the aim of ensuring that if a relationship broke down the so called “absent parent” could be compelled to make a contribution towards the costs of bringing up their children. In 2012 a new child maintenance system was introduced called the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). It is important to note that Child Maintenance arrangements through the CSA will be ending between now and 2017. In relation to those arrangements currently with the CSA new arrangements will need to be agreed directly with your former partner, through solicitors or pursued through the CMS.

For further information on the DWP press release and changes to the Child Maintenance

system please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/announcements and www.gov.uk/CSAchanges

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