Child Maintenance Service is urged to “up its game”

A group of MPs has called on the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to do more to enforce the payment of child support.

Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee has said that the organisation needed to improve the system, amid fears that too many families are “slipping through the safety net.”

A report prepared by the cross-party committee has identified a number of priorities which it believes should be pursued to improve the current process.

These include cracking down on self-employed parents who are accused of taking advantage of a legal loophole to avoid paying the correct amount of child support.

The MPs fears that a considerable number of cases were overlooked when the new CMS framework was put in place five years ago and argues it is time to confront issues, both arising from the reforms and those which have been a cause for concern for decades.

Heidi Allen MP, who is among the committee’s members, said: “It is right of course that families sort these issues themselves wherever possible, and the Government only provide a safety net when that doesn’t work.

“But a high proportion of ongoing cases from the CSA have not been resolved, they have simply disappeared.

“The CMS must visibly up its game, to get fair support for parents in the most difficult circumstances, and to send a clear signal that avoiding responsibility for your children is unacceptable.”

Other priorities identified include tackling long-running underpayment by absent parents and cementing the help available to victims of domestic violence.

There are concerns that the current system requires these individuals to have to engage with their abuser over sums of money that haven’t been paid.

Jerry Karlin, chair of the campaign group Families Need Fathers, feared the report didn’t go far enough.

“Our child maintenance system is inadequate and undermines shared parenting,” he said.

“This committee’s report simply tinkers around the edges, but does not address fundamental flaws in the system.”

For further information about this update please contact Peter Martin, on 020 8349 0321 or by email.

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