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Government proposals to tackle child maintenance arrears

Posted by on in Children & Child Custody
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The Government has recently launched a consultation, setting out how it proposes to deal with some of the £3.8 billion in unpaid child maintenance.

The government is determined to ensure the new, reformed system chases money more vigorously and prevents arrears escalating out of control again.

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:

“We must move on from the CSA’s past when debt was allowed to escalate at unacceptable rates. We will collect every penny in unpaid maintenance that we can and continue to chase old debt. It is children who lose out when parents refuse to pay.”

Credit industry data is being used to chase the one in five parents who fail to pay each quarter. If they apply for a new credit card, mobile phone or buy expensive luxury items, caseworkers will be able to locate and pursue them.

As well as tackling current cases, thousands of parents with arrears dating as far back as 1993 are having their cases re-examined. So far, more than 100,000 cases with around £600m outstanding have been identified for possible action. Officials have been locating parents’ new addresses and employer details at the rate of up to around 1,000 per week.

Meanwhile limited powers to write-off uncollectible debt in a small minority of cases, and close some others by agreement, will allow caseworkers to target debt that can and should be recovered for children.

More than 1,000 properties owned by parents with child maintenance debts have now been referred for possible seizure and sale. Orders for Sale have been obtained in 150 cases. Almost £2.5 million has been secured for deduction from parents’ bank accounts since new powers were introduced in 2009. The first half of 2011-12 saw a sharp increase in the number of accounts targeted for possible regular deduction order action.

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