‘Loopholes’ mean too many absent parents are not paying their dues, single parent charity Gingerbread has claimed.
In a new report entitled Children Deserve More, Gingerbread insist that recent reforms to the child maintenance system have “prioritised administrative convenience over all other concerns” and “desperate” parents with care are being let down by an unhelpful and confusing system.
Amongst the issues highlighted in the report is the government’s decision to calculate child support obligations on the basis of gross earnings as self-reported to HMRC, which is of course, a separate organisation. This allows many paying parents to deliberately under-report their true incomes the charity says, even if they are in reality quite wealthy, and get away with paying “a bare minimum”.
The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) procrastinates when parents complain that they are not receiving their due, Gingerbread insists, or disclaims responsibility, referring them to HRMC, only for the parent to receive a similar reception from the latter organisation. Some are then repeatedly passed back and forth between the two organisations.
The government must child support evasion seriously, Gingerbread declares, and establish a new strategy for tackling the issues involved. This must include provision for greater cooperation between the CMS and HMRC it says.
Director of Policy Dalia Ben-Galim said:
“Up and down the country, loopholes in the child maintenance system are allowing parents to deny their children the essential support they need. Some are deliberately hiding their income, while others can perfectly lawfully escape with income or assets ignored; some are cash-in-hand labourers, while others are multi-millionaires. But in all these cases, single parents now have to collect evidence for a system that continually obstructs them. It’s not enough that they juggle being breadwinners and homemakers – they are now forced to become private detectives as well.”