CMS charges “cruel and callous tax” on victims of domestic abuse, experts say


Charges for separated parents to use the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) have reached almost £1 million a month, a figure which critics are calling a tax on victims of domestic abusive.

Figures show that the CMS – commonly used by divorcees as an intermediary to transfer child maintenance costs – has taken more than £11 million since its introduction in 2014.

Around £950,000 alone was taken in March, the most recent month for which figures are available.

Experts predict that this number will only rise as more people switch over from the now-suspended Child Support Agency, which will end all operations in 2018.

Angela Crawley, an SNP spokesperson for children, women and equalities, said domestic violence survivors would fear giving their abuser personal bank details, forcing them to use the service.

“It is near impossible for women who have escaped abuse to share details with an ex-partner,” she said.

“These unfair charges will disproportionately impact survivors of domestic abuse, who feel they have no option but to use the service as they are too frightened to have a direct link to their abuser.

“I am very concerned that this is a cruel and callous tax on child support and that ultimately it is the children who will lose out on money intended to support them.”

The CMS charges a £20 application fee and enforcement charges for non-payment, as well as an additional “collect and pay” charge.

Parents who opt to use collect and pay will be charged 20 per cent on top of their usual child maintenance amount, while receiving parents must pay a four per cent collection fee.

The application fee is dismissed in around a third of domestic abuse cases, but no such exemption exists for the collection service.

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