Anger over child maintenance charges

Changes to child maintenance charges that came into force this week will take money away from youngsters, a leading charity has claimed.

Gingerbread said the Government had already introduced a £20 application fee for parents who need to use the service and now ongoing charges have been introduced for those who need to use the system’s new collection service.

The only way that parents can find themselves in the collection service and paying the ongoing charges will be if the paying parent is proven to be a ‘bad payer’ because he or she has failed to pay maintenance voluntarily.

If the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has to collect child maintenance from the paying parent, they will apply an additional charge of 20 per cent to that parent, which the Government will keep.

The CMS will then also deduct four per cent from the child’s maintenance before passing the remaining money onto the single parent.

On average, the collection charges will see a single parent family losing more than £70 a year – equivalent to a term’s worth of school dinners.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “The Government’s new charges will take money from children.

“Child maintenance makes a real difference to children’s lives and it is simply wrong for the Government to take this money because their other parent has failed to pay when they should.”

However, Ms Weir said it was important that parents weren’t put off from putting child maintenance arrangements in place.