THOUSANDS of parents will be forced to cough up for any child maintenance fees they haven’t paid as single parents miss out on £408 million.
Parents in the UK legally have to support their children financially – so if a couple has separated, one parent will have to pay child maintenance to the other.
Payments can be arranged privately, but if your ex is refusing to pay, or not paying what they should be, you can arrange payments through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
But new figures released from the Department for Work and Pensions, which oversees the service, reveal that unpaid child maintenance payments has reached a whopping £408.3million since the scheme began in 2012.
This equals 9% of all payments due to be paid.
It comes as a backlog of missing payments has developed after single parents were told by the CMS last year that any missing cash would not be chased up or enforced due to the Covid crisis.
The DWP said it “redeployed” at least 10,000 staff to work on the “unprecedented” level of new Universal Credit claims.
It meant the team who were in charge of chasing and enforcing missed child maintenance payments were told to work on processing millions of new UC claims over the course of the pandemic.
The new figures also revealed that 42,000 – 28% of parents – are not paying for any child maintenance they owe under the CMS’ Collect and Pay scheme.
This scheme is usually used by the CMS to collect payments from parents who are unwilling to cough up.
To use the Collect and Pay service, single parents have to pay a 4% fee on any payment they receive to the CMS.
While the parent who owes the money has to shell out a 20% fee.
Single parents are only charged the fee when they receive the maintenance payment.
These fees for the Collect and Pay service go towards the CMS’ running costs.
HOW TO MAKE A CLAIM THROUGH THE CHILD MAINTENANCE SERVICE
IF your ex is refusing to pay child maintenance you should go through the CMS. Here’s how to apply.
Première, you should call Child Maintenance Options to check if you are entitled to child support.
You can call them on 0800 083 4375.
The line is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.
You will need to provide them with:
- details about the child you’re applying for and their parents
- your National Insurance number
- your bank account details
This information is used to set up and manage child maintenance payments, and sometimes to try and find the paying parent.
Most Child Maintenance Service cases are set up within a month.
It can take longer if there’s a problem with contacting the paying parent.
Once your case is set up you can manage your case online.
But it has confirmed to The Sun that it will be cracking down and chasing up on ALL missed payments to try and recoup cash for single parents.
The CMS is able to crackdown on parents not paying their due in a number of ways.
It can take money directly from pay checks, use bailiffs to seize goods and sell them at auction, and force Brits to sell their home to raise money for the payments.
toutefois, parents not paying up will face no interest charges – or penalty charges – for failing to pay.
A DWP Spokesperson said: “The CMS puts children first, with their work securing £249 million for British kids in the first quarter of 2021 as they use the full range of their powers to secure money from parents failing to face up to their responsibilities.
“Fees are in place to incentivise parents to support their children without the intervention of the CMS, and the latest statistics show that a record number of these parents are now paying over 90% of what they owe.”
Am I eligible for child maintenance and how much could I get?
If you’ve split up with the parent of your child, you will be eligible for child maintenance.
The exact amount will vary depending on a number of factors including how much the non-resident parent earns, how many kids you have and how many nights a week they look after them.
If both parents split childcare evenly with the same number of overnights, then no child maintenance will be paid through CMS – even if one parents earns more than the other.
But if you arrange things privately, a higher-earning parent may choose to contribute more financial to take care of their kids.
There is a useful CMS calculator that can help you work out how much you should be getting.
You’ll need to know how much the other parent earns (including state pension), any benefits they get, and the number of nights your children will be staying with them.
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