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New report says Child Maintenance Service is failing families

A report published this month by the leading charity Gingerbread states that parents and children are being let down by the current Child Maintenance System.

The report entitled ‘Children deserve more’ details how loopholes in the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) mean that some non-resident parents are paying a fraction of what they should. The CMS is supposed to calculate and, when necessary, enforce, the payments that children need. But the report argues that recent reforms have instead prioritised administrative convenience over all other concerns. Gingerbread have stated this has led to a situation where desperate parents are repeatedly being let down by a system that seems designed to be as unhelpful and opaque as possible.

The report details a number of issues with the current system. One of which is the decision to base the child maintenance calculation on gross taxable earnings or profits as reported to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as they argue this has had widespread repercussions. Paying parents with often considerable assets can end paying a bare minimum, since several sources of income aren’t taken into consideration. Or self-employed parents are able to get away with under-reporting their income in order to reduce their payments.

The report also goes on to say that the method of calculating child maintenance payments is only half the problem. Parents who believe they are receiving less than their children are entitled to frequently complain about being stonewalled by the CMS, or being kept in the dark about their options. Gingerbread has found that since the calculation is based on HRMC information, single parents often find themselves being passed back and forth between the two organisations, with neither taking responsibility for re-evaluating the calculation.

Gingerbread Director of Policy Dalia Ben-Galim says: “Gingerbread is calling for the new government to set out a clear strategy for tackling child maintenance avoidance and evasion, including far greater co-ordination between the CMS and HMRC when assessing incomes, and considerably more support for parents who wish to challenge assessments.”

If you are struggling with maintenance issues with your ex, family mediation could help. Family mediation gives parents the opportunity to speak with each other about the vital money matters that affect their child’s future. Agreements can be made in mediation to tackle these issues. Many of our clients find that a discussion about the financial needs of their children and their respective abilities to meet them are invaluable.

For more information about this report please see Gingerbread’s website.

Or for more information about how family mediation can help with child maintenance issues please contact us on or visit our website.

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