Statistics from the Child Support Agency (CSA) show the overall performance gains achieved since 2006 continue to be sustained. More than £1,146m in maintenance was collected or arranged in 2010, up from £1,135m in the previous year. Total uncollected arrears, accumulated over the entire 17-year lifetime of the Agency, remained stable at around £3,787m.
The figures also reveal that nearly 700 properties owned by parents with child maintenance debts have been targeted for possible possession and sale to pay off their arrears. The Agency has deployed new enforcement powers and increased its use of existing legal processes in order to keep child maintenance payments moving.
So far, orders for the sale of 100 properties have been granted though only a handful have had to be seized. The strategy has been to arrest the growth in maintenance debt and prevent parents running up arrears running into tens of thousands of pounds.
The new powers include Deduction Orders, where money is forcibly removed from bank accounts. More than 600 lump sum and regular payment orders have been imposed, so far raising in excess of £1 million. The Agency is also pursuing the estates of more than 600 deceased parents so their children will benefit from their legacies.
“The number of children benefiting from maintenance payments has increased by more than 50% since 2005 when performance began to improve. We are putting more and more of our efforts into re-establishing compliance when payments are missed and making increasing use of our wide range of enforcement powers," said Child Maintenance Commissioner Stephen Geraghty.
A mother from the Midlands, who was awarded over £17,000 thanks to a deduction order after her ex-partner refused to pay child maintenance for ten years, said the money has got her and her family out of debt.
“My child has suffered for years from her dad not paying what she’s owed”, she said. “This has helped me pay off loans I had to take out to support my daughter. I’ve also taken her abroad on holiday for the first time in years. The money has improved the life of my daughter tremendously.”
Enforcement powers are used only after other recovery methods have been tried and where it is believed the parent has the means to pay but is refusing to do so.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The CSA’s Quarterly Summary of Statistics for October –December 2010 include new and additional information on the use of enforcement powers and details of the Agency’s performance by local authority area. The full release can be viewed here:http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/publications/statistics.html
2. The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is the body responsible for the child maintenance system in Great Britain. Its role is to promote financial responsibility for children, provide the Child Maintenance Options information and support service and to develop and direct the statutory child maintenance service currently provided by the Child Support Agency. Under the Public Bodies Bill now before Parliament the Commission will become an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions.
3. The Government’s proposed reforms of the child maintenance system are set out in DWP consultation paper ‘Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance’ which can be viewed at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2011/strengthening-families.shtml
4. Child maintenance legislation creates two types of deduction order – Lump Sum Deduction Orders (which freezes and later deducts a lump sum of child maintenance arrears from an account) and Regular Deduction Orders (which instruct a deposit-taker to make ongoing deductions for child maintenance from a specified account).
5. All separated parents are already free to set up their own child maintenance arrangements and can access free information and support from Child Maintenance Options at www.cmoptions.org. Tel. 0800 988 0988
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept