Department for Work and Pensions ‘misleading’ on child support

ChequeThe UK government’s methods of monitoring child maintenance are misleading, single parent charity Gingerbread has claimed.

In a new consultation on ways of increasing the accuracy of financial reporting, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that it plans to continue counting child maintenance payments as paid in full when the Child Support Agency (CSA) has calculated the amounts due but the money is paid directly between the parents.

In such situations, called ‘maintenance direct’ arrangements, the government has reportedly admitted that it has no way of knowing whether the money has actually reached the child.

Fiona Weir, the charity’s chief executive said:

“While we welcome the government’s move towards more transparency in its child maintenance statistics, it is simply not statistically robust to count all ‘maintenance direct’ cases as fully paid, when the DWP has no idea whether this is true, and it seems extraordinary that the DWP would continue to over-claim in this way.”

She added:

“This comes at a time when the government is planning to start charging both parents to collect child maintenance, in an effort to make them use a ‘maintenance direct’ arrangement. Yet the DWP itself has estimated that only around 28 per cent of these ‘maintenance direct’ arrangements are likely to be fully paid. This will create a wholly misleading picture of the amount of money going to children.”

Photo by David Goehring via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence


Yvie - May 17, 2013 at 4:58pm

Child maintenance whether collected by the Child Support Agency or paid directly, goes straight to the mother. It is up to the mother to decide how this is spent, directly on the children, indirectly on the children or not at all on the children. Neither the Department for Work Pensions nor Gingerbread have any way of assessing how much money goes to the children or whether direct maintenance payments are misleading or not.

Chavez - May 17, 2013 at 5:37pm

This comment has been edited.
Nothing is fair in life, so why the repeated demands to enforce a fairness that is quite the opposite of fair. What a monumental waste of resources. Better to start educating people to date the right men rather than always seeking out the pimps, blockheads and footballers.

Chavez - May 17, 2013 at 5:39pm

Better to educate people to be independent than parasites, surely.

Chavez - May 17, 2013 at 5:52pm

Oh no, the truth bites the dust again.

Dave Smith - May 18, 2013 at 1:15pm

How is the system misleading, if someone agree’s to pay someone not using the governments service then how can a charity turn round and blame the government. That would be like saying to someone instead of paying by direct debit i will give you the money but still using the terms of the direct debit guarantee.

I receive maintenance from my ex partner as direct and no issues, even if it’s not the correct amount or whatever it is our responsibility.

I think someone needs to look into the charity and see if that given the correct advice.

John - May 19, 2013 at 8:56am

I believe that Gingerbread are regularly used in government policy making regarding child maintenance. So, Isn’t it ironic, that the government receive a ‘broadside’ from Gingerbread?

The regular use by both sides of ‘smokes and mirrors’, reflects that the system is ‘not fit for purpose’, and the only beneficiaries are the government.

The government, making money regarding parents and children in separation and divorce. Now that is sad!

Karen Bredwood - May 25, 2013 at 9:01pm

CSA, CMS or whatever they call themselves is a useless system if the absent parent is self employed. Seems that they are more difficult to trace and assess. When eventually caught up with the absent parent can refuse to pay right up until a threatened ‘force of sale’….which is a waste of time if no equity in house…it seems he beat the bailiffs, or his driving licence revoked, or prison even. Enforcement dept…no real powers

James Amos - June 10, 2013 at 3:58pm

Please bare in mind that organisations such as Gingerbread (and the CAB) are stakeholders of the CSA. Be very wary of their comments! How independent are they?

layla - June 14, 2013 at 7:59am

Csa is useless ~working parents can evade paying and the csa only seems to make threats I am not sure what the criminal compliance team is for as they hold no power whatsoever in fact after 3 years of threatening they have decided to stop looking for nrp with him owing over £8000.

alan - September 2, 2013 at 9:36am

im a father , I haven’t seen my daughter in six years. I pay maintenance and always have, until I lost my job and went onto jobseekers. I got a bill six months later for 12,000. claiming arrears. as I had never missed a weeks payment I argues my case on deaf ears. The csa claimed I hadn’t paid for five years since the split. now I ask why would i only start paying when i lost my job and why would the ex only start claiming i haven’t paid her for the last five years now? not soon as i apparently stopped paying?
years later and many phone calls and sending of bank statements im getting threatened with debt enforcement, freeze bank accounts loosing licence jail etc.. who can i call for advice?
its hard enough to concentrate on life and work as it is to pay the bills when you know your daughter is probably growing up hating her dad for not being there.
and im still paying the csa
guess im just a cash cow getting milked for everything i have.

Marilyn Stowe - September 2, 2013 at 12:38pm

Dear Alan
Call Child Maintenance Options either on the phone or have a web chat with them. Theyre very good and the service is free.

Yvie - September 2, 2013 at 6:03pm

There are far too many storIes coming to light about the high handed treatment of paying fathers by the CSA. What seemed the right and proper way forward when Margaret Thatcher created an agency to ensure that fathers did not get away with not supporting their children, has evolved into a rigid, Draconian organisation, with no respect or consideration for the very many fathers who are more than willing to pay for their children, but find themselves, often through no fault of their own, paying arrears as well as the required maintenance payments. Something is radically wrong with a system that forces decent fathers out of their homes and out of their employment in order to meet the imposed demands of the CSA. Fathers who are PAYE are the ones most persecuted by this souless organisation. As for the the ‘absent fathers’ identified by Mrs Thatcher and who should be the top priority for the CSA, by all accounts they are still ‘absent’.

JamesB - September 2, 2013 at 8:34pm

I think it was a discussion between her and Ronald Reagan that did it. What looked like a good idea at the time doesn’t look like a good idea now. To be fair to her, it was John Major who implemented it. With regards to calling me names as it does I very much resent it also.

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