Unpaid child maintenance is a problem across Britain, with the national total coming close to £4 billion, according to single parent charity Gingerbread.
The charity has also revealed significant regional variation in the levels of unpaid maintenance, with Normanton, Pontefract and Castleton the worst affected region, with outstanding maintenance of £6.64 million, closely followed by Milton Keynes South, with a total of £6.26 million.
At the opposite end of the scale, Na h-Eileanan an Iar has the lowest amount of unpaid maintenance, with a total of £0.87 million.
The average child maintenance debt owed to more than a million families who use the Child Support Agency is £2,067, money that Gingerbread argues could make a huge difference to families’ lives. The charity has called for more to be done to ensure the child maintenance system in Britain is fit for purpose.
“Bringing up children costs money – they need clothes, food and a warm home – and both parents have a responsibility to contribute financially,” commented Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir. “The failure of the CSA to collect these millions of pounds of child maintenance means that children are going without and single parents have been left poorer. Child poverty in single parent families is set to double in the next four years, so it’s even more essential that this money is collected.”
“The CSA and its successor the CMS should be doing all they can to ensure that families get the financial support they are owed,” she added. “They have many powers at their disposal but in reality both are slow to act when parents don’t pay and single parents are left shouldering the costs of raising a child alone.”
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