The Child Maintenance Service has been criticised by leading charities, following their announcement to collect money off parents using the scheme.
Gingerbread, a charity set up to help single parents, stated: “Gingerbread believes it’s wrong to charge single parents to access money their children are entitled to. We will continue to campaign against the charges at every level. We also have real concerns about how the new system will work practically, particularly for single parents with maintenance arrears and for those who have been victims of domestic violence”
Vixens was contacted by a mother who had received a telephone call from the Child Maintenance Scheme last week. She claimed she was told that if she didn’t make a private arrangement with her child’s father, she would have to pay to receive money her child is entitled to. “I was gobsmacked. I told the man on the phone I can’t enter into a private arrangement with the father, as I am a victim of domestic violence, and he has been convicted in the last year of multiple breaches of a non molestation order. It would be unsafe of me to do so. But, because I can’t do this, we will be penalised and the Government is going to take money off me that my child is entitled to. My ex partner pays the grand total of £5 per week in child maintenance. It’s a minimal amount, but I can’t afford to lose any more money. I’m paying almost £200 a week in childcare as it is. As far as I’m concerned the Government is taking money from my child”.
The scheme which was introduced in May 2014 is unlikely to be fully in place until 2016-17, and fathers are set to be charged too, with 20% added on to every payment they make.
The Department of Work and Pensions have issued the following explanation for introduction of the charges. “The government wants to encourage more parents to think about working together to arrange child maintenance instead of using the Child Maintenance Service or the courts. It doesn’t cost parents money to sort out child maintenance between themselves, and the government believes that charging both parents to use the service will encourage them to consider working together to arrange child maintenance. Children often do better with both parents involved in their children’s lives. And we can support this by encouraging both parents to work together to agree their maintenance arrangements.”
We think that statement speaks for itself…