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Kara Swift
Kara Swift
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Record number of children benefiting from Child Support Agency

Date:28 JUL 2011

MoneyThe Child Support Agency (CSA) collected or arranged a total of £1,159.6m in the 12 months to the end of June. That figure includes £123m in recovered arrears as the Agency continued to maximise the use of its enforcement powers.

The courts imposed suspended prison sentences on more than 1,000 parents who refused to pay child maintenance during 2010-11. A further 165 received suspended driving bans.

More than £2.0 million has now been forcibly deducted from the bank accounts of indebted parents under powers commenced in 2009. 950 parents have been told they are at risk of losing their homes if they do not pay.

A record 868,700 children are now benefiting from CSA payments.

The results come as the government is about to completely overhaul the child maintenance system. Under the proposed system, parents will be given the option of whether to make their own, family-based arrangements or to use the new child maintenance service, for which there will be a charge. However, in cases where people have suffered domestic violence, their case will be fast-tracked directly onto the statutory service and no payment will be required to enter the system. It represents biggest overhaul of the system since it was first set up in 1993.

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said: "Most separated parents want to support their children without interference from the state. But there is still an irresponsible hardcore trying to avoid their legal duty.

"Our reforms will provide greater support to help more parents make their own collaborative, family-based arrangements which will in turn free-up the state service to chase those who do not meet their financial responsibility to their children."

Single parent charity Gingerbread has accused the Government of being blind to impact of the charges. Its chief executive said: "The Government has still failed to grasp the damaging effect on children of charging fees to access and use the Child Support Agency. 

"It is disappointing that the Government intends to plough on with plans that will make it harder to get child maintenance for many, after the Prime Minister himself has recognised the need to support single parents dealing with ‘runaway' ex-partners".