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Parliament debates reform of the Child Maintenance Service

A House of Commons debate on 'Reforming the Child Maintenance Service' was held in Westminster Hall on 19 May 2022. The debate was opened and closed by Marion Fellows who concluded by commenting: "what needs to be reformed is the systems, and the way in which they are enforced [and not the CMS staff].

David Rutley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the DWP, responding on behalf of the government (though he does not have direct responsibility for the CMS), said that from March 2016 to December 2021, the percentage of CMS cases where no maintenance is being paid fell by about 30 per cent, from 46 per cent in March 2016 to 32 per cent in December 2021. On enforcement, he noted that between January 2020 and December 2021, the CMS arranged 14,300 deduction orders, which represents about 33 per cent of non-paying collect and pay parents. It also referred 15,000 parents to enforcement agents, which represents about 35 per cent of non-paying collect and pay parents. During the same period, where further action was needed the CMS initiated almost 6,000 sanction actions against non-paying parents, which represents about 13 per cent of non-paying collect and pay parents. That led to 249 prison sentences of which 244 were suspended and five immediate.

For the Hansard record of the debate, click here. For a research briefing prepared by the House of Commons Library for the purposes of the debate, click here. For a separate briefing setting out statistics on the fees in a child maintenance application, and the enforcement steps taken when child maintenance is not paid on time or in full, click here.