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Areas with highest unpaid child maintenance in UK revealed

Gingerbread calls on MPs to demand improvements to child maintenance system

Single parents living in a West Yorkshire constituency are owed more than £6.6m in unpaid child maintenance, according to figures published by Gingerbread, the charity for single parents.

Nationally, unpaid child maintenance stands at close to £4bn, and Gingerbread has revealed those areas where most child maintenance remains outstanding. The charity is calling on MPs across the country to back its campaign to improve the child maintenance system, and ask the government to take action to collect unpaid maintenance.

Areas with the highest arrears are as follows:

  1. Normanton, Pontefract and Castleton - £6.64m 
  2. Milton Keynes South - £6.26m
  3. Great Grimsby - £6.25m
  4. Telford - £6.13m
  5. Nottingham North – £6.07m.

Areas with the lowest arrears are:

  1. Na h-Eileanan an Iar - £0.87m
  2. Sheffield Hallam - £1.15m
  3. Cities of London and Westminster - £1.18m
  4. Enfield, Southgate - £1.37m
  5. Wimbledon - £1.44m.

The government is closing the CSA and all CSA arrears are being transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS). Parents with children who have a CSA case will have to reapply to its replacement, the CMS, if they want their CSA arrears collected. Gingerbread says that as the CSA winds down, the agency is doing even less to collect on the huge debts that have accrued. Meanwhile, it is unclear how much effort the new CMS is making to collect former CSA arrears which have been transferred to it so far. At the end of March 2016, £153.3m in CSA arrears had been transferred to the CMS (Commons Written Answer 37683). No government information has yet been published on the progress of the CMS in collecting these arrears.

Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said:

"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. 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.

"We ask MPs to back our campaign to ensure that separated families get a child maintenance system that is fit for purpose."

Less than half of single parents (38 per cent) in the UK receive child maintenance; see Maplethorpe, N. et al (2010) Families with children in Britain: Findings from the 2008 Families and Children Study.