Single parent charity Gingerbread has called on MPs and peers to reject collection charges for child maintenance as the legislation proceeds through parliament this week.
New regulations set to be debated by both the House of Commons and House of Lords this week will see the introduction of charges for child maintenance. If the divorced or separated parents are unable to reach a child support agreement amongst themselves, they will be charged a fee for government collection under the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS): four per cent for the parent collecting the money and 20 per cent for the parent paying. The fees will, the government claims, provide parents with an incentive to make their own arrangements. There will also be a £20 application fee for the CMS.
If approved, the planned charges will come into force later this year.
Gingerbread delivered a petition opposing the plans to parliament yesterday. Chief executive Fiona Weir said:
“The new service should have securing reliable maintenance for children at its core, but instead it will jeopardise existing arrangements and put financial pressure on struggling single parent families. Parents will only be able to use the new collection service when their child’s other parent has repeatedly failed to pay child maintenance. It is wrong that single parents should have to lose part of their child’s maintenance because of the other parent’s unwillingness to pay.”
According to Gingerbread, the government expects as many as 100,000 parents who currently collect maintenance under the Child Support Agency to abandon their claims when their cases are closed and not transfer to the CMS.
Fiona Weir added: “One in five of the poorest single parent families could be lifted out of poverty by regularly receiving child maintenance. We want to encourage more single parents to make arrangements, but the new system will put barriers in their way. ”