£2.9bn of child maintenance “uncollectable”

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It has been a mixed bag this week for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) concerning the Child Support Agency (CSA) and the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The DWP announced on 25 January that the number of parents paying maintenance through the CSA/CMS is at a record high. Nearly nine out of 10 non-resident parents within the CSA system are now contributing towards maintenance for their children.

The DWP also announced that, in the past 12 months, the CSA has helped to collect more than £1.2bn of payments. This has been due to the enforcement powers the CSA now has, along with vastly improved processes.

However, Radio 5 Live Investigates reported on the same day that accounts prepared by DWP also show that, of the £3.9bn total child maintenance arrears currently outstanding, the DWP believes £2.9bn of this will be “uncollectable”. The programme quotes the Rt Hon Steve Webb MP, the Minister of State for Pensions who is responsible for child maintenance, as saying: “Just because money has been owed for a long time it does not mean it should be forgotten about.”

The programme was first broadcast at 11am on Sunday 25 January 2015 on BBC Radio 5 Live. Follow links to both the DWP announcement and Radio 5 Live’s programme for more information.

Amanda Crowe is a divorce solicitor at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich. Divorce Solicitors Suffolk – click here for more information on our services.