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.
‘Child maintenance is not a benefit. If the government gives a damn about children they would properly and vigorously pursue non-payers and underpayers. STOP viewing it as “help” for single parents and accept it is a fair expectation on parents to meet their responsibilities to their children!’ – Mumsnet user
‘Why are so many chances given to non-payers? If I didn't pay my council tax or VAT would I be allowed to rack up tens of thousands of pounds of debt without consequence and have it written off 18 years later?’ – Mumsnet user
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 them in 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.’
‘Writing off payments to people because their kids are now grown up is not acceptable. Just because a family like mine got through doesn't mean I no longer need the money. My son has a law degree now; he would like now to do his LPC but he can't afford to and I can't afford to help him either. What I am owed would more than cover it, but having taken out all sorts of loans while my kids were growing up just to pay the rent and put food on the table my credit is screwed. It's not just the not-getting what I should have, had but the knock on effect when they are no longer children.’ – Mumsnet user
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts explained why Mumsnet is supporting this campaign: “Contributing towards the food on your child's table and the roof over their head is surely the minimum basic standard for being a decent parent, which makes the low priority accorded to enforcing child maintenance payments close to inexplicable. As countless single parents on Mumsnet will attest, the effects on children's physical and emotional wellbeing are profound. It's long past time for the Child Maintenance Service to do its job.”
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.