An application charge for parents to access the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has led to a significant drop in the number seeking help, a charity claims.
According to single parent charity Gingerbread, 2,900 fewer parents have applied to the CMS since the introduction of a £20 fee to use the service. This represents a drop of 30 per cent, more than twice as much as the government’s prediction of a 12 per cent drop.
The application fee was introduced in June and was called “wrong in principle” by Gingerbread. Additionally, in August the CMS brought in a ‘Collect and Pay’ scheme. This charges an additional 20 per cent to parents paying child maintenance and deducts four per cent from those who receive it.
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said that the charity had “consistently warned the government” about the effect of introducing the charge and that the latest figures “seem to confirm our fears”.
She added that children from single parent homes are currently “twice as likely to live in poverty” than those from two parent homes and that the charge was a further barrier to those families “getting the support they need”.
Fiona Weir implored the government to get rid of the charge. This is not the first time Gingerbread has spoken out against it. Back in February, they urged Parliament to take it out of the proposed reforms to the child maintenance system.
The charge was introduced to encourage parents to sort out their own child maintenance arrangements. However, official data which shows how many parents have made their own arrangements is yet to be published. Fiona Weir asked the Department for Work and Pensions to release this data because it was vital that the government “be transparent about the impact its reforms are having”.
Photo by Till Westermayer via Flickr