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Child maintenance reforms to affect children

Single parent charity Gingerbread has warned that the reforms of the child maintenance system will lead to many children losing out, as new DWP data reveals that 100,000 parents are expected to drop out of the system and stop getting child maintenance altogether.

According to Gingerbread, even if every one of the 100,000 parents with care currently getting child maintenance who decide not to use the new system were only getting the current minimum payment of £5 per week, this would still mean £26 million currently being paid in child maintenance being lost to children each year – but the actual figure is likely to be much higher.

All single parent families who currently use the Child Support Agency (CSA) will face closure of their cases from 2014, with potentially millions lost in payments for their children as a result.

Gingerbread also claim that upfront and on-going charges will take at least £700 million from single parent families who need to use the new Child Maintenance Service to secure child maintenance.

The government has announced that parents with care will pay an application charge of £20 to use the new child maintenance service and lose 7% of any maintenance paid if it is collected by the service rather than by Direct Pay. Non-resident parents will pay a 20% surcharge on top of their maintenance payments, plus extra if further enforcement action is taken.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said:

“These are tough times for families and any missed maintenance payments could have a serious impact on single parents’ ability to feed, clothe and care for their child. The government is so focussed on getting parents to come to their own arrangements that it has failed to see the serious financial impact these changes will have on the very children the service should be supporting.”

 

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