Single parents across Portsmouth area ‘owed £20m in child maintenance payments’

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SINGLE parents across the Portsmouth region are owed more than £20m in child maintenance payments.

New research shows millions is owed and haven’t been collected by the CSA service since it began in 1993.

The reasons why some parents don’t pay are complex, and we must work to ensure they both are and can.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

Portsmouth North ranks the highest out of all local parliamentary constituencies – with £5.97m – and has the seventh largest outstanding payments nationally.

Second is Havant with £5.61m – 15th in the UK – while Portsmouth South comes in the third highest locally with £4.27m. Single parents across all constituencies locally are owed a total of £23.40m.

Single parent charity Gingerbread, which obtained the data through the Freedom of Information Act, is now calling on MPs to back its campaign to improve the child maintenance system.

And it wants the government to take action to collect unpaid maintenance.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, also the minister for disabled people, health and work, said more needed to be done.

She said: ‘Ensuring people receive maintenance is one way we can ensure parents are able to cover their costs.

‘The reasons why some parents don’t pay are complex, and we must work to ensure they both are and can. Part of that is about increasing the ability to earn more, developing careers as well as getting into work.’

Gingerbread says the government is closing the CSA, and all CSA arrears are being transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service.

Parents with children who have a CSA case will have to reapply if they want their CSA arrears collected, it says.

And as the CSA winds down, the agency is doing less to collect debts that have accrued. 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 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.’

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘We actively pursue those parents who are not meeting their financial responsibilities, and in almost 90 per cent of cases, parents are paying the money owed.

‘We have measures in place to ensure that no client will get lost when debt is transferred from the old system.’

The department says it has a range of enforcement powers. It can take deductions directly from earnings and bank accounts, order the sale of property and apply to remove parents’ driving licences or commit them to prison.

AMOUNTS OWED

Portsmouth North £5.97m

Portsmouth South £4.27m

Fareham £3.04m

Gosport £4.74m

Havant £5.61m

East Hampshire £2.63m

Meon Valley £2.74m