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MNHQ here: New child maintenance campaign from Mumsnet, Gingerbread and the Good Law Project

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RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Jun-20 10:56:34

Hello

Over the years we’ve seen thousands of Mumsnet users talk about the difficulty of getting child maintenance payments from uncooperative exes - and lots of anger about how the Child Maintenance Service addresses the issue. (Some of you will remember this Guest Post from last year…)

So we’re really pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up with Gingerbread and the Good Law Project on a new campaign to fix the CMS - and specifically, we’re supporting their legal action against the Department for Work and Pensions. To quote Gingerbread:

‘Gingerbread, alongside the Good Law Project and Mumsnet, is supporting four women who have issued a Letter Before Claim to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of their intention to seek Judicial Review due to the failure by the CMS to collect child maintenance payments from their children’s non-resident parent, leaving them and their children in financial difficulty and, in some cases, in poverty.’

‘It is a child’s legal right to be supported by both parents, and yet the service designed to protect this right is failing the children. Even before COVID-19, there were already £335 million in unpaid arrears and over 100,000 children across the country not receiving a penny in maintenance. Despite a vast array of enforcement powers, CMS have shown extreme negligence in actually using them, collecting an amount worth less than 10% of what is actually owed. It simply cannot be right that a government service can continually leave children of single parents in poverty without being held accountable.’

‘COVID-19 means this problem is getting worse by the day. CMS are running a skeleton service, meaning they are now as a rule not enforcing payment and are allowing paying parents to reduce or withdraw maintenance payment without any proper evidence. This has already resulted in more single parent families losing out on maintenance payment which quite simply, can be the difference between having food on the table or not. These children deserve better.”

If you’d like to support the campaign on social media, the hashtag is #FixtheCMS and you are very welcome to retweet Mumsnet’s tweet about it here.

We’ll be running a free clinic with Gingerbread next week where you can get advice on any child maintenance issues you’re currently having so please keep your eyes peeled for that and of course we’ll bring you any updates on the campaign.

Thanks
MNHQ

OP’s posts: |
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Jun-20 11:08:11

There's a piece up on the BBC site now which explains more about the background

OP’s posts: |
Corna Wed 24-Jun-20 12:12:51

I saw this article just now and immediately knew it would be a Mumsnet campaign.

Well done and good luck! I cannot abide the shifting of parental responsibility to single parents and the taxpayer. It is totally unfair and the CMS need to be better able to deal with the problem.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Jun-20 12:46:24

Corna

I saw this article just now and immediately knew it would be a Mumsnet campaign.

Well done and good luck! I cannot abide the shifting of parental responsibility to single parents and the taxpayer. It is totally unfair and the CMS need to be better able to deal with the problem.

grin thank you!

OP’s posts: |
Kpo58 Wed 24-Jun-20 12:54:24

I just can't understand why child maintenance isn't deducted directly from pay, like student loans. Maybe they could deduct it before taxs to help encourage people to actually pay it.

Ok, it won't help against self employed who refuse to pay, but it should help a lot of people.

TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 24-Jun-20 13:14:16

Wonderful. Lets hope they can get rid of some of the loopholes which mean NRPs can legally be assessed as having to pay £0 despite clearly having some kind of income.

RandomMess Wed 24-Jun-20 13:25:59

Surely if someone is self employed there should be a way of adding it on to their personal tax liability?

JamieLeeCurtains Wed 24-Jun-20 13:38:23

Thank you, @RowanMN. This is a massively important campaign.

Gettingthereslowly2020 Wed 24-Jun-20 13:45:00

I fully support this campaign and I hope it is successful and brings much needed change. Children deserve to have the best quality of life possible.

My child's father is "self employed" (he told me he's done this deliberately to avoid paying child support) and doesn't declare most of his earnings so they wouldn't be able to deduct it like tax. Can't prove how much he earns as he does cash in hand jobs. And he doesn't own any assets either. Unfortunately a lot of non-resident parents do this to avoid paying child maintenance.

AnnaBanana333 Wed 24-Jun-20 13:45:23

God yes, this is a much needed campaign and I'm so pleased to see someone taking action.

The government should pay out CMS and collect it back from the NRPs. See how quickly the CMS would get its shit together in that situation.

Stannisbaratheonsboxofmatches Wed 24-Jun-20 13:45:53

Good luck! This cannot be anything but right.

It’s to the benefit of everyone that these children do not grow up in poverty, and have the opportunities that come with proper support from their parents.

AnnaBanana333 Wed 24-Jun-20 13:46:06

I meant the government should pay out maintenance directly and collect it back from NRPs.

YesIDoLoveCrisps Wed 24-Jun-20 13:49:41

Hooray and thank you! flowers
Dads who change to being self employed to avoid paying maintenance are a real issue.

Mike987 Wed 24-Jun-20 14:52:22

I'd just like to point out that the child mainenence also fails seperated fathers, my daughter moved in with me at 14 and it took the child maintenance service almost 12 months to stop taking payments. My son at the same time was spending 50% of his time with me and 50% with his mother, I was paying maintenance for a child that lived with me permanently and maintenance for a child that spent equal time with each parent. It took years to get a tribunal date to get payments to stop - all the time the cms assured me any extra payments would be refunded but they never were. They are a shambles and in my experience made the relationship with my ex ten times worse. It didn't help that the ex wouldn't speak to them and was happy to continue taking the money without providing any support. Everyone involved in this case - good luck, I'd really like to see the cms change but in my experience as a man the system was massively biased against me.

JamieLeeCurtains Wed 24-Jun-20 14:55:25

I have a feeling that it'll take a man making a big noise about child poverty and single parents - e.g. Marcus Rashford - to get the government to do something.

I agree that every child should be given a minimum of, say, £50 per week child support either from the NRP parent; or from the government who then chase that NRP for the money back.

It's disgusting that parents, the vast majority of whom are men, can just walk away from child support. They can't walk away from council tax, income tax, rent, mortgages, insurance, broadband bills - but yet they can somehow walk away from parental responsibilities.

Why?

flamingochill Wed 24-Jun-20 15:07:12

Totally agree.
Change to a system where the government pays RP then government chases NRP for payment. Government treats non-payment of CM like non payment of VAT/income tax.

okiedokieme Wed 24-Jun-20 15:57:07

And support should've extended until the end of higher education - currently a resident parent cannot claim housing benefit and/or charged the bedroom tax once their kid goes to university meanwhile the nrp on £100k pays nothing.

Authenticcelestialmusic Wed 24-Jun-20 16:12:06

For the self employed It should be treated the same way as self employed self assessment. You declare you owe maintenance for x number of children from x date. If you give false information or fail to declare within 28 days you are charged an increasing fine and interest daily.

If you are employed it should be the same as a student loan, deducted at source. Again it should be the NRP responsibility to set it up and ensure it goes out each month, failure to do so results in daily interest accruing and a fine. The government would never allow a CMS setup for student loan collection or self employed taxation as they know it wouldn’t be paid!

If you set up a limited company, then it should be charged on the persons net profit after corporation tax plus salary, benefits in kind and pension contributions. If mortgage lenders can use the net profit after corp tax plus salary formula to give mortgages surely CmS can use it.

Then for those that give up a well paid job, use the American system. I believe they still charge the old amount.

Debt should follow the person to the grave.

As a country we are allowing kids to rely on food banks whilst absent parents evade their responsibility. It needs to be made unacceptable not to pay.

mynamesnotMa Wed 24-Jun-20 16:49:30

I would like to see real-time earnings represented not the previous tax years. As well as a zero-tolerance to allowing arrears.
Currently, if the NRP doesn't engage then they just take the previous tax year even if one is able to provide proof that they are earning loads more why should the be allowed to incur debt and arrears - if that is the case then interest should be charged and passed on to the RP in no other situation would this be allowed. I claim no benefits and am a low earner so I literally pay for everything whilst he has completely absolved himself of all financial responsibility

SharkAttack1972 Wed 24-Jun-20 16:57:08

I think that if they don't pay child support they should have their driving licence and passport cancelled. I'm sick of seeing self employed men driving round in flash cars and knowing they are not paying for their kids. It happens a lot around our area.

Asdawankers Wed 24-Jun-20 17:49:27

Brilliant campaign, thank you. I know many people who have been poorly treated by the system and Covid has exacerbated this. My sister knows for a fact that her ex has worked throughout the pandemic and yet he stopped paying in April and she's not had a penny since. The arrears will build up while she struggles and when they eventually catch him up he'll only offer a small amount on top of his usual payment to make up the arrears. We know this as this is what he does consistently. I expect he's hoping to continue in this manner until my DN is 18 and then hope he's one of the many who gets his arrears wiped. I really struggle to understand why the CMS don't invoke their powers, even when asked to do so by the RP.

whatsnext2 Wed 24-Jun-20 17:52:13

Good luck, sadly with the current people in power and their track record, this will be an uphill struggle.

DysonFury Wed 24-Jun-20 18:39:54

About bloody time. Be good if they looked into how self employed fathers manage to live on ie. £50 a week, therefore scamming their kids as well as committing tax evasion. They get away with it aware that they are untouchable.

RamsayBoltonsConscience Wed 24-Jun-20 19:01:40

Agree with the previous poster about revoking passports from non paying parents. They do that in Australia. It's utterly galling to be owed thousands of pounds and see photos of the ex on holiday in New Zealand! 🤬 I haven't been abroad in 22 years because I can't afford it!

aquashiv Wed 24-Jun-20 19:05:35

It is pretty straight forward if someone is PAYE to take the percentage based on their actual earnings. Yet they won't do that for at least 12 weeks. Then the RP is charged to ensure they pay so the children receive even less...many play the system by being consistently late...arrears are only agreed with NRP when the RP has had months of waiting for monies owed. Its an absolute nightmare for parents...many know that they take no action. They need to start issuing ccjs and reclaim the monies owed.

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