Child maintenance enforcement to be sped up to crack down on shirkers

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the reforms will mean parents who dodge the financial responsibilities they have for their children will be “quickly held to account”. The Government will on Monday publish its response to a consultation on measures to give the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) more powers to recover cash from non-paying parents faster, confirming these reforms will be accelerated. These will include allowing the CMS to use an administrative liability order to recover unpaid child maintenance instead of applying to the courts.

This could reduce enforcement time almost fourfold and ensure that further action, such as the forced sale of property or driving licence disqualification, could be used much sooner. Around 10,000 parents a year who refuse to pay maintenance could be affected, the DWP said. From February 26, the GBP20 application fee for parents seeking the CMS’s intervention when maintenance is not paid will also be scrapped.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride (Victoria Jones/PA)Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mr Stride said: “We know the vast majority of parents strive each and every day to give their children the best possible start in life.

“But those who shirk the financial responsibilities they have for their children must be quickly held to account.

“That’s why we are fast-tracking enforcement from six months to six weeks – making the system fairer for parents and above all for children.”

Under the changes, the CMS could also write off debt worth less than GBP7 in inactive cases so it can focus on parents who owe much larger sums.