The soon-to-be-disbanded Child Support Agency has failed to collect as much as £4 billion in child maintenance, the single parent charity Gingerbread claims.
In a new report entitled Missing Maintenance, the charity claims the multi-billion arrears have accumulated over the 23 year lifespan of the notorious agency, which is still in the process of being closed down in favour of successor organisation the Child Maintenance Service. The government estimates, however, that only around 12 per cent of the arrears will ever be collected.
The average debt to families still involved with CSA cases is £2,067, the charity claims, declaring:
“This is money that could make a huge difference to children’s lives; yet for families still using the CSA, debt collection activity is declining. At the same time evidence suggests that decreasing effort is being put by the government into collecting more than £700m of arrears on existing cases.”
Meanwhile, Gingerbread continues, around £52 million in arrears has already been accumulated by the Child Maintenance Service, despite a system of financial incentives and fines which were intended to prevent this occurring. Close to half of all parents involved with the CMS are now owed money by the non-resident parent.
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir claimed
“Britain’s child maintenance system is contributing to a culture where too many parents think it’s optional, rather than obligatory, to pay their child’s maintenance. The accumulated level of CSA arrears is staggering and completely unacceptable.”
“… it remains unclear what will happen to money still owed for children once the CSA closes for good. The government is keen to move on and have a fresh start. But there should be no fresh start for those who still owe child maintenance for children today.”
Missing Maintenance is available here.
Image by Alf Melin via Flickr