Agencies slow to act over £6m of unpaid child maintenance, says report

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Single parents in parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are owed millions of pounds in unpaid child maintenance, a new study shows.

West Yorkshire and Grimsby are among the areas where more than £6 million is owed, the campaign group, Gingerbread, said.

Milton Keynes, Telford and Nottingham were also identified as maintenance blackspots, while the lowest arrears were found to be in parts of Sheffield, the Outer Hebrides and London.

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Gingerbread, which helps single parent families, said the government’s much-criticised Child Support Agency (CSA), which is being wound down, was doing less to collect debts as its work was gradually transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service.

The average child maintenance debt owed to more than a million families who use the CSA is over £2,000, said the report.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “Bringing up children costs money 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.

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Ms Weir said the CSA and its successor “should be doing all they can to ensure that families get the financial support they are owed”.

She added: “They have many powers at their disposal but in reality both are slow to act when parents don’t pay.”