If a parent fails to pay child maintenance it will adversely affect their credit rating, the government has announced.
Starting in March 2015, information about people’s payment records will be shared with credit agencies by the Child Support Agency (CSA) and Child Maintenance Service (CMS). This will happen when a ‘liability order’ is made against someone. Such orders occur when one parent takes the other to court for not paying the required amount of child maintenance. According to the government, 12,410 of such orders were made between April 2013 and March 2014.
Parents who do not make their required payments will feel the same impact as people who do not pay other debts. As a result, they may end up having loans, mortgages, phone contracts and other forms of credit refused as a consequence of the new scheme.
The government hopes this will act as a deterrent against parents who may otherwise attempt to get out of paying maintenance for their children.
Steve Webb, the Child Maintenance Minister, said that “a minority of absent parents” have gone unpunished for evading their responsibilities and leaving their families without financial support.
He added that the new initiative was designed to address such “irresponsible behaviour”, although he hoped “that we see this power used very little”.
Webb claimed the idea was in line with the government’s ‘family test’ for all new policies, which “has put the interests of family relationships at the heart of the policy making process”.