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MNHQ here: Parliamentary debate on the Child Maintenance Service - an MP wants to know your views

(120 Posts)
BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Jul-19 17:29:02


Parliament's engagement team have asked us to share details of an upcoming debate on the Child Maintenance Service. Here's what they say.

"Martyn Day MP argues that “the current Child Maintenance Service system is letting down many constituents across Great Britain – both paying and receiving parents. I would like all children to benefit from receiving maintenance payments that are consistent and compatible with the paying parent’s income level.”

"On Tuesday 23 July, he will lead a Westminster Hall debate on the effectiveness of the Child Maintenance Service. He wants to hear about your experiences to help inform his debate.

"Have you had a positive experience in your dealings with the Child Maintenance Service?
If not, what were some of the issues you faced?
What would make the Child Maintenance Service work better for you?

"We’ll pass your comments on to him and he may use your examples during his debate. We’ll post links to watch the debate and read the transcript when they become available on Tuesday 23 July.

"Please submit your comments before midday on Monday 22 July.


"Your name, and any information or opinions you provide, may be shared with Martin Day MP and used in a parliamentary debate which will be on the record and available on Parliament TV and Hansard. Please ensure that you are happy with your comment before sharing.

"To see our online discussion rules, please visit:"

BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Jul-19 14:20:56


Thanks to everyone who posted on this thread. We've heard back from Parliament's engagement and they have asked us to post this update.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this discussion. Your responses were passed on to Martyn Day MP ahead of his debate on Tuesday. He put many of the points you raised to Work and Pensions Minister Will Quince MP.

During the debate Martyn thanked those that contributed stating that:

“the ineffectiveness of the Child Maintenance Service has a negative impact on a significant number of people. That is certainly supported by the nearly 1,000 people who responded to the House of Commons Facebook post and the Mumsnet thread that invited comments ahead of the debate. I thank each and every person who made the effort to share their experiences on those forums —many of them were quite traumatic tales [...] I can state that almost none of the paying and receiving parents who responded had had a positive experience in dealing with the Child Maintenance Service.”

We caught up with him after the debate to find out how he thought it went. He wanted to relay his thanks in a video which will be added to this thread.

You can read the transcript for the debate on Hansard.

Watch it on

And read a House of Commons Library Briefing prepared for the debate which covers the relevant issues.

Here are some extracts from his speech which relate to some of the points you raised:

The enforcement capabilities of CMS:

“I warmly welcome the introduction of tough new sanctions for those who evade their parental responsibilities, but if the enforcement actions are not applied they are a blunt tool that does nothing to encourage paying parents to meet their obligations.”

“It is a constant stop/start process. My staff member was ultimately advised that the procedures for enforcing the payment of arrears in child maintenance were not being adhered to because the operational powers laid out in legislation fall short in practice.”

Staffing levels at CMS:

“In answer to a written parliamentary question, I was advised last week that the overall head count of part-time and full-time enforcement case managers on 30 June 2019 equated to an overall full-time equivalent resource of 220.91, with 104 being employed full time. Clearly, operational resources have not been increased; they have actually decreased. It is therefore also unsurprising that Department for Work and Pensions figures show that arrears owed in respect of child maintenance rose by more than £7 million in just three months, between December 2018 and March 2019.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Will Quince MP responded to these points:

The enforcement capabilities of CMS:

“A number of hon. Members raised the issue of enforcement, and we are taking far more action in that regard. We now have several court-based powers, including the use of enforcement agents, otherwise known as bailiffs, to seize goods, forcing the sale of the paying parent’s property. Approximately 7,100 paying parents in England and Wales are currently being pursued by civil enforcement agents for unpaid maintenance following a referral by the CMS.”

“Hon. Members also mentioned that the service can apply to have the paying parent sanctioned—by being committed to prison or disqualified from driving, for example. In addition to that, in regulations in November last year we launched the ability to disqualify non-compliant parents from holding a UK passport, which we believe will act as a strong deterrent. The service initiated 900 sanctions in the quarter ending March 2019 as a last resort against non-compliant paying parents.”

NRP declaring false income

“We are aware of a small number of parents whose maintenance liability is inconsistent with their financial resources. Some choose to support themselves via a complex arrangement of assets rather than taking a salary. We are taking action to address that.”

“Parents can request a variation so that most forms of taxable income can be taken into account in the maintenance calculation, which will make it harder for individuals to avoid their responsibilities by minimising the amount of child maintenance they pay. The new powers that we introduced last year allow us to target complex earners via a calculation of notional income based on assets. In addition to the gross annual income provided by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, we can capture income derived from property, savings and investments, including dividends, and other miscellaneous income. We also have the Financial Investigation Unit, which can investigate those parents who declare suspicious earnings or, where appropriate, refer to HMRC for tax fraud.”

If you have an issue with the CMS, or would like to speak to someone about your case, you can contact your MP or Citizens Advice.

timemanagement Mon 22-Jul-19 22:42:12

Why should absent parents get away with not paying for their children? The government is enabling these irresponsible knobheads.

corlan Mon 22-Jul-19 09:24:59

My daughter's father avoids paying maintenance as he owns a large house which he has filled with tenants. His real income is thousands of pounds a month, but on his tax return he claims every allowance possible so that he is judged to have an income of a few hundred pounds a month. My daughter is noiw 13 and th most he has ever paid to support her through the CMS is £12 a week.
I complain every year to the CMS and they tell me they can only use the figures he provides to HMRC.When I questioned why they have been using the same figures for the last 2 years, the CMS representative told me that they can use the same figures for 6 years.
The system is not fit for purpose. There are thousands of men who avoid supporting their children and it is the rest of society that picks up the bill for them.

BobTheDuvet Mon 22-Jul-19 08:42:18

Reduction in maintenance due to pip/dla/child benefit would be wrong, because the person/people missing out then would be the child/ren.

BobTheDuvet Mon 22-Jul-19 08:39:31

Ok, thank you for the explanation.

MonkeyTrap Mon 22-Jul-19 08:09:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 23:18:39

Not relevant to the op maybe but relevant to the thread id say??

22WR Sun 21-Jul-19 22:55:19

My experiences have not been great unfortunately. Over the years, my daughters father has built up arrears of over £10k. There have been several Deduction of Earnings Orders in place but it has taken so long for these to be set up each time that he has moved employment before they have taken any payment. Each time I've been told that the process to set up a DOEO would be quicker than the previous time but this hasn't been the case. There were 2 legal orders in place for the arrears which were granted 2 years ago but since then I have still not received any payment and arrears have continued to accrue on the case.

I have received no update on my case without me contacting the Cms myself to chase. Essentially they've told me my case is in a continual review cycle where someone looks st it every few months to check if any of the "paying parent" details have changed with HMRC etc. It just feels a very inefficient way of dealing with the case.

I have come to accept that I will probably never receive the money owed. Thankfully we aren't reliant on it but many parents are and the system makes it too easy for paying parents to simply opt out.

BobTheDuvet Sun 21-Jul-19 22:54:22

I wondered if I'd missed something - couldn't see why it was relevant.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 21:45:22

So why did you quote the post if youre not interested in what it was questioning?

BobTheDuvet Sun 21-Jul-19 21:37:27

joan but that's a whole different question - nothing to do with cms?

Courtney555 Sun 21-Jul-19 21:02:28

That's exactly what I'm talking about Gchnmum, you can literally sit there, going "I have his financial disclosure from our immediately current divorce, it's a legal document, it SHOWS you've got this wrong"

And the trained monkeys at CMS who give not one shit about the trauma and hardship this is causing the parent with care, are incapable of taking this into account. And you get to the point where you have neither the time, nor the crayons to try and make these idiots see the most simple of information you are forcing down their necks. They don't give a f*ck. It's so wrong, and our children pay the price of their ineptitude.

There needs to be a dedicated team of qualified people who can see the most basic of information, and act on it. "Why is your legally stated income on your court documents not what you declare to us?" It's not rocket science is it. Why should someone living in the UK using a tax loophole to be paid £250k by a non UK tax system to ensure they qualify as zero maintenance payable, be enabled to do this when all that needs to happen is to include any UK NRP's salary irrespective of source? It's not rocket science is it.

Gchnmum Sun 21-Jul-19 20:46:19


Gchnmum Sun 21-Jul-19 20:45:40

My sub ex is a self employed barrister, somehow the cms service have his income as £101 a week and he pays £30 maintenance a month. I know for fact that is not his current earnings as we are going through a divorce and he had to disclose all financial info, how is he able to get away with this.

Courtney555 Sun 21-Jul-19 20:27:41

There needs to be a higher appeals process than the numerous idiots at the CMS who are incapable of anything other than a "computer says no" response.

Any NRP income needs to be assessable. My ex openly flaunts his £250k salary, he gets paid by a Dutch payroll company, pays Dutch taxes, and by doing so has no "taxable UK income". Fully UK resident. Solely listed non resident from a tax/paperwork point of view. Therefore liability is ZERO.

This needs to be addressed by parliament immediately. So many men exploit this and laugh in their children's faces. UK resident with ZERO liability because of his deliberately chosen head office payroll location? Can't be touched by REMO though as a UK resident. Horrendous and such an easily closeable loophole that costs so many parents with care so much, in so many ways.

Immediately needs to be rectified.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 20:05:14

bob i dont know how to answer that but ir does seem a little unfair that one parent would get all the benefits for the child, and the other one who lets say is also under the threshold gets nothing, or much less.

Theyre both bringing up the child for the same amount of the time, both have the same financial responsibilities but one gets significant help from the gov and the other doesnt.

BobTheDuvet Sun 21-Jul-19 19:23:05

The level of payment also needs to be reassessed. RP’s who can claim benefits for their child (PIP, child benefit etc) and NRP’s get no offset for these even if care is 50:50.
If care is 50:50 no maintenance is due? What kind of 'offset' should nrps get?

eve34 Sun 21-Jul-19 18:44:44

I am sure I can't add anything that hasn't already been said. But the system needs more teeth

How many people have had money taken from their accounts. Their passports removed or jailed??

I have had no money for a year. It took Cms 6 months to finally do collect and pay only for nrp to stop work. He has a disability pension which is going through the appeals process. Really does that take a year?

My heating packed up at the beginning of the year. I foolishly thought Cms would have me some money by the winter. But it isn't looking likely.

My children still need a home. Clothes and food. And their father should be contributing. It shouldn't be optional.

MonkeyTrap Sun 21-Jul-19 17:20:43

In my experience they listen too readily to the RP, who can ring and say the NRP has stopped paying, has the child(ren) for less nights than they do and then there’s consequences for the NRP which there doesn’t seem anyway to dispute. Even when there’s irrefutable evidence to the contrary (ie bank statements showing payments). My DH was just told to go to court and sort it that way.

The level of payment also needs to be reassessed. RP’s who can claim benefits for their child (PIP, child benefit etc) and NRP’s get no offset for these even if care is 50:50. For low earners 15% can be far too great and for high earners the child benefit goes far beyond costs associated with child rearing.

Graphista Sun 21-Jul-19 17:01:08

"Families who are entitled to benefits get them regardless of whether they recieve maintenance or not. Maintenance is not taken into account when assessing eligibility for benefits, so enforcing payment of maintenance will not reduce payments of benefits."

Thankfully that is the case NOW.

When I was first separated and receiving some benefits (was working full time but nmw and needed help with rent, childcare etc) maintenance WAS deducted from benefits - worse, if ex only paid £5 it was ASSUMED he paid the rest in cash or would pay the rest "soon" and that he would continue to pay each month, so the FULL amount of what he was SUPPOSED to pay was deducted from my benefits. It's a good while ago so I forget if it was 3 or 6 months bank statements that were required to prove he WASN'T paying maintenance (damn hard to prove a negative!)

This left me seriously struggling to the point of not eating. I was so relieved when that stopped. Please please don't suggest we go back to that because it would be children and RP's that would suffer.

I'd be all for the passport stoppage too - is it ott to ask that there be klaxons and flashing lights accompanying it? (Not entirely joking) how about a website naming and shaming - which MIGHT also go some way to putting potential future partners and mothers of more children off too! Certainly as a single woman myself, I would be interested in being able to check if the guy I'm dating has an already proven track record as a "deadbeat" before I get too involved.

My ex regularly holidays in Florida etc with his "new" family - dd is lucky if she gets a late birthday card as the sum total of his "generosity" to her all year!

Cms DO have sanctions they COULD use, but current practice is that it is too slow and too unwilling to implement these!

DropOfffArtiste Sun 21-Jul-19 14:13:20

If maintenance was paid in every case, without fail, then it could be included as income for benefit purposes. The reason it isn't, is that so many NRPs don't pay.

JoanMavisIcecreamGirl Sun 21-Jul-19 13:34:06

If children were adequately supported by both their parents there would be less need for benefit claims

There wouldn't because if the rp is entitled to benefits they get them whether they get cm or not. Do you really think people wont claim what theyre entitled to?

RamsayBoltonsConscience Sun 21-Jul-19 10:09:32

The CMS are not fit for purpose when it comes to non-paying parents. They do not have enough teeth e.g. my ex claims he is not working even though he lives in a static caravan on his bosses land and I have evidence (that I have sent to CMS) that he IS working. He is earning so much that he has been able to take two trips to NZ in the last two years while I'm working two jobs to make ends meet. The rules in Australia mean that non-paying parents aren't able to leave the country until all arrears are cleared. Why don't we have that? The CMS need greater powers!

NotBeingRobbed Sun 21-Jul-19 10:04:46

What I mean is lots of absent NRPs don’t pay because they think the taxpayer will pick up the bill. Meanwhile they have new cars, flash holidays etc.

Jaffacakebeast Sun 21-Jul-19 10:00:44

Sorry to derail, but for those of you wanting collect and pay, the Cms dragging their feet : if u can afford to miss a few mths : call your bank and block payments from your ex, then they’ll be in arrears and collect and pay can kick in, this is what I did, what I was advised to2 via the Cms

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