26/01/2015 06:03 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Almost £3 Billion Of Child Support Payments Will Never Be Collected


Child support-dodging parents owe a staggering £3.9 billion in maintenance arrears - and the Department of Work and Pensions believes that £2.9 billion of it is 'uncollectable'.

DWP accountants have calculated that the bulk of the outstanding arrears will never be paid as historic debts are sidelined to increase focus on children in immediate need.

Some of 1.3 million single parents who are owed child support payments have been waiting for years, and have even seen their children grow up and leave home without receiving a penny of the money they were entitled to for their upkeep.

The rebranded Child Maintenance Service is seen by many as an attempt to break away from the negative image of the Child Support Agency, which was consistently criticised for delays and inefficiency during its 21 years of existence.

Under the new system, separated parents will be encouraged to come to their own agreement for financial support, with as little state intervention as possible. It is hoped this will simplify the process and avoid the backlog of unresolved cases associated with the CSA.

The CMS will be focussing its energies on collecting payments for children who are still legally minors rather than sifting through the CSA's mountain of historic arrears.

However, ministers stressed that absent parents who have racked up historic arrears will not be let off the hook, pointing to tough new laws introduced by the Government which mean nine out of 10 non-resident parents are now paying towards their children's upkeep.

The CSA has collected over £1.2 billion in maintenance payments over the past year, almost a third of which was taken directly from wage packets as an automatic deduction, making it far harder to avoid payments.

Child Maintenance minister Steve Webb said he was 'delighted' to see the number of parents evading their responsibilities continue to fall.

"When the coalition came to power in 2010, the CSA was in chaos with huge amounts of money left uncollected and simply not making its way to the children who needed it," he said.

"We've managed to turn this super-tanker around thanks to smarter processes and procedures, and tougher enforcement action against parents who refuse to recognise their responsibilities."

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