Survivors of domestic abuse will be given the choice to allow the CMS to collect and make payments on their behalf – without the consent of an abusive ex-partner. This will prevent perpetrators from using child maintenance as a form of ongoing financial abuse and control and mean survivors will not have to have contact with their ex-partner if there is evidence of domestic violence.
The CMS will also have new powers to report suspected cases of financial coercion to the Crown Prosecution Service to help bring abusers to justice. One-to-one support for survivors will be piloted and domestic abuse training for staff improved.
These changes come after the DWP commissioned Dr Samantha Callan, a leading expert on domestic abuse, in the autumn of 2021 to review CMS support for parents who had experienced domestic abuse in setting up a child maintenance arrangement. This followed the tragic death of Emma Day, who was murdered by her ex-partner, Mark Morris.
Minister for Work and Pensions Viscount Younger of Leckie said: "Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and we are doing everything in our power to support survivors to make child maintenance claims safely and without fear. We have strengthened the ways in which the Child Maintenance Service can support survivors in making a maintenance claim safely. I am grateful to Dr Samantha Callan for recognising this and for her vital work which will protect more parents from abuse, bring more perpetrators to justice and help keep families safe."
Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression Mims Davies, DWP’s Lead for Women, said: "Any form of domestic abuse and coercive control is unacceptable and illegal but very sadly can be found in most communities and we need to help people speak out and get the assistance they need. Here at DWP we are committed to doing all we can to provide vital support to those affected. Our improvements to the Child Maintenance Service will mean no one will be prevented from making a claim because of domestic abuse and financial control, and will run alongside our wider support for DWP claimants experiencing abuse or who are in vulnerable situations to disclose this and be helped to move forward in safety."