The UK government’s methods of monitoring child maintenance are misleading, single parent charity Gingerbread has claimed.
In a new consultation on ways of increasing the accuracy of financial reporting, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that it plans to continue counting child maintenance payments as paid in full when the Child Support Agency (CSA) has calculated the amounts due but the money is paid directly between the parents.
In such situations, called ‘maintenance direct’ arrangements, the government has reportedly admitted that it has no way of knowing whether the money has actually reached the child.
Fiona Weir, the charity’s chief executive said:
“While we welcome the government’s move towards more transparency in its child maintenance statistics, it is simply not statistically robust to count all ‘maintenance direct’ cases as fully paid, when the DWP has no idea whether this is true, and it seems extraordinary that the DWP would continue to over-claim in this way.”
“This comes at a time when the government is planning to start charging both parents to collect child maintenance, in an effort to make them use a ‘maintenance direct’ arrangement. Yet the DWP itself has estimated that only around 28 per cent of these ‘maintenance direct’ arrangements are likely to be fully paid. This will create a wholly misleading picture of the amount of money going to children.”
Photo by David Goehring via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence