Unpaid child maintenance is proving to be a serious problem in certain regions across the UK, according to a new survey carried out by Gingerbread, a charity campaigning for the welfare of single parents.
Its report finds that unpaid child maintenance stands at close to £4 billion nationally, and is calling on MPs to back its campaign to improve the child maintenance system and ask the Government to take action to collect unpaid maintenance.
At around £6.64 million in arrears, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleton in West Yorkshire owe the most in unpaid maintenance.
Milton Keynes South (£6.26 million), Great Grimsby (6.25 million), Telford (6.13 million), and Nottingham North (6.07 million) make up the next four worst offenders.
Gingerbread highlights on the closure of the child Support Agency (CSA), whereby all CSA arrears will be transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
It says parents with children who have a CSA case will have to reapply to its replacement, the CMS, if they want their CSA arrears collected.
It estimates that the average child maintenance debt owed to more than a million families who use the CSA is around £2,067.
Gingerbread Chief Executive, Fiona Weir, said: “Bringing up children costs money – they need clothes, food and a warm home – and both parents have a responsibility to contribute financially. The failure of the CSA to collect these millions of pounds of child maintenance means that children are going without and single parents have been left poorer. Child poverty in single parent families is set to double in the next four years, so it’s even more essential that this money is collected.
“The CSA and its successor the CMS should be doing all they can to ensure that families get the financial support they are owed. They have many powers at their disposal but in reality both are slow to act when parents don’t pay and single parents are left shouldering the costs of raising a child alone.
“We ask MPs to back our campaign to ensure that separated families get a child maintenance system that is fit for purpose.”