To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department takes to ensure that absentee fathers are financially responsible for their dependent children.
The new statutory child maintenance scheme (“the 2012 Scheme” - administered by the Child Maintenance Service) has a number of key features designed to ensure that non-resident parents meet their financial responsibilities to their children.
For example, the 2012 Scheme uses tax data taken directly from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, addressing challenges around ensuring that the child maintenance calculation is based on accurate earnings information. The scheme also enables swifter identification and follow-up of those non-resident parents who fail to pay their child maintenance.
Where non-resident parents fail to meet their liabilities, there are a range of enforcement powers; for example, child maintenance can be taken directly from bank accounts and wages; non-resident parents are subject to charges for any enforcement action taken against them; and the Government has also introduced a new power to disclose non-compliance to credit reference agencies.