Thursday, 13 July 2017

Child maintenance service failing

A final report by the old Work And Pensions Committee highlighting the bleak position of certain single parents seems to have been forgotten about in the circus surrounding the general election and the politicking which followed. The people concerned were those who were receiving maintenance under the Child Support Agency, which is being wound up, but are not being treated well by the replacement Child Maintenance Scheme.

Heidi Allen MP, Member of the Committee, said:
"We know the balance between state and family is one of the hardest to get right. But there is an opportunity to get control of this decades old issue, by improving the new Child Maintenance Service.
"I would not like to be the CMS adviser who has to tell a parent who has been chasing the child support their family is entitled to, maybe from a violent ex-partner, that they will have to start all over again with a new agency. Or that despite chasing for years, they need to discard any progress with enforcement and investigation and start from scratch.  In many cases, it makes absolutely no sense. We need to improve on the current situation, not start from the beginning again.
"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. There must now be a worry that families simply cannot face starting over and are slipping through the safety net. Families who break up and are able to sort their financial commitments amicably do not need the state's help. But my goodness, when this isn't possible, of all the times when you need the state to back you up, this must surely be it.
"The victims of this fraud by shameless self-employed parents who play the system, and old-fashioned deadbeat non-payers here, are children. 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.
"The evasion of child support under the guise of ever changing 'self-employment' is also an evasion of tax. It is a double hit to the tax payer in the form of lower tax receipts and also benefit payments to parents with care who can't then make ends meet. It is therefore essential that the Government reviews this as part of its comprehensive review of self-employment."

The government should pay attention to criticism from a fellow-Conservative.

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