Children: Maintenance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 26th February 2020.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support parents that have (a) ongoing claims and (b) been waiting for payment of arrears for up to 10 years through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS); whether she plans to reduce the amount of time before the CMS seeks a court order for enforcement of payment of arrears; and what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing greater penalties for parents that avoid making payments in cases where there are substantial arrears.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Where paying parents fail to pay their maintenance on time and in full, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) aim to take immediate action to recover the debt and re-establish compliance using its range of enforcement powers.

If all efforts to re-establish compliance have been exhausted and the paying parent is employed, the Service can deduct their maintenance and any arrears directly from their earnings. The CMS can also deduct directly from bank accounts as a lump sum or regular amount. We have a range of other strong enforcement powers, including the use of Enforcement Agents to take control of goods, forcing the sale of property, disqualification from holding a UK passport or commitment to prison.

The CMS is committed to using its wide ranging enforcement powers proportionally, and in the best interests of children and separated families, and must consider on a case by case basis whether taking action will secure more money for children.

Since 2018 we have introduced new collection and enforcement powers. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the new powers. At present we have no plans to further extend these powers.

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