Child maintenance enforcement to be sped up, government says

1 week ago 17

Single mother with child

By Thomas Mackintosh

BBC News

Parents who refuse to financially support their children face quicker penalties under government plans, it has been announced.

Ministers say enforcement times will be cut from six months to six weeks.

The government confirmed a £20 application fee for parents seeking intervention when maintenance is not paid will end later this month.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the reforms will make "the system fairer" for parents and children.

"We know the vast majority of parents strive each and every day to give their children the best possible start in life," Mr Stride said.

"But those who shirk the financial responsibilities they have for their children must be quickly held to account."

The government estimates around 10,000 parents a year refuse to pay maintenance and could be affected by the "fast-tracked" enforcement.

The scrapping of the £20 application fee was announced in October last year, but it will come into force from 26 February, the government announced.

On Monday, the government will publish its response to a consultation on measures to give the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) more powers to recover cash from non-paying parents faster.

These will include allowing the CMS to use an administrative liability order to recover unpaid child maintenance instead of applying to the courts, the government said.

Under the changes, the CMS could also write off debt worth less than £7 in inactive cases so it can focus on parents who owe much larger sums.

The Department for Work and Pensions says this could reduce enforcement time almost fourfold and ensure further action, such as the forced sale of property or driving licence disqualification, could be used much sooner.

Legislation to implement the changes is expected to be laid before Parliament in the spring.

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