Children: Maintenance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered at on 7 September 2022.

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Photo of Sarah Green Sarah Green Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Wales)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will make an assessment of the adequacy of the powers of the Child Maintenance Service to help prevent financial coercion through the non-payment of child maintenance.

Photo of Julie Marson Julie Marson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Assistant Whip

The Child Maintenance Service seeks to constantly review and improve its processes and services including the approach it takes to supporting customers who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse, including financial coercion. Through mandatory domestic abuse awareness training, the service undertakes to train all its caseworkers to be aware of and if possible identify any instances of abuse and signpost these customers to specialist domestic abuse organisations and to a range of information and advice about staying safe. This is supported through additional guidance related to domestic abuse.

There are no specific powers related to financial coercion. However, where ‘receiving parents’ are not receiving the full maintenance they are entitled to, a case can be moved from the Direct Pay part of the scheme onto the Collect and Pay service, whereby we can then use our administrative and legal powers up to and including enforcement activity to secure payment.

It is important to note new powers under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 extends the offences of controlling coercive behaviour to post separation. We will be reviewing how we change and align our processes to the requirements of the Act.

It may also be useful to mention that CMG has recently been subject to an independent review of its approach to domestic abuse.

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