Child maintenance – ministers call for change

Child support payments to be based on tax records to reduce underpayments

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Ministers have called for child maintenance payment reform amid reports £14.4 million too little was collected from absent parents.

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Absent parents’ child maintenance payments will be increased next year following Government plans to base figures on the individual parents’ tax records.

The current system relies on parents truthfully declaring their earnings. This has lead to a £14.4 million underpayment in some cases and a £10 million overpayment in others, according to a UK spending watchdog. Ministers hope the new system will eliminate incorrect payments due to parents being dishonest about their earnings.

For those on benefits or low incomes who pay a flat £5 a week at the moment, this would rise to £7.

Maria Miller, the Junior Work and Pensions Minister, is keen to see these payments driven up even higher in order to move towards a much fairer system. “The current system is failing too many children,” Maria claimed, with absentee parents still owing an estimated £3 billion in payments.

It’s hoped the new system will speed up the process and limit individuals avoiding payments.

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