Submitted by: 10 members.
Mover: Wendy Chamberlain MP (Spokesperson for Work and Pensions).
Summation: Lord Palmer (Lords Spokesperson for Work and Pensions).
Conference notes with concern that:
- Around half of children in separated families - 1.8 million children - continue to receive no support from their non-resident parent.
- The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee found that unpaid maintenance owed to parents on Collect & Pay, the service operated by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to distribute payments, is set to rise to £1 billion by March 2031.
- The National Audit Office review into the CMS in March 2022 stated that the work of the CMS has "not, so far, increased the number of effective child maintenance arrangements across society".
- The DWP upholds more complaints for every 1,000 customers on child maintenance than any other area.
- Withholding or artificially reducing child maintenance payments is being used as a form of economic abuse and that some survivors find it especially difficult to obtain the evidence necessary to get the Child Maintenance Service to increase the amount their abuser has to pay.
Conference believes that:
- Every child has a legal right to be supported financially by both their parents and that child maintenance payments are vital for the well-being of children from separated families, particularly single parent families.
- For survivors of domestic abuse, using the statutory child maintenance system is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of safety.
- Service charges for the Collect & Pay service are unfair and penalise the parent receiving funds for the unwillingness of the other parent to pay.
- The Government has little strategy to improve the Child Maintenance Service and seems incapable of retrieving payments from parents that refuse to pay.
- The formula used to determine maintenance payments does not accurately reflect the true cost of raising a child.
Conference calls for:
- A full review and reform of the Child Maintenance Service to ensure it works for all children and parents.
- The removal of the 4% charge for receiving parents using the Collect and Pay service as well as the initial £20 charge to be enrolled onto Collect and Pay.
- A review of the formula used to determine maintenance payments to better reflect parents' circumstances, such as the age of their children and their differing needs.
- Guidance on child maintenance payments to survivors of domestic abuse to be written into law, including direction on extracting payment from those using payments as a form of ongoing coercive control.
Mover: 5 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see pages 110-111 of the agenda.
The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 11 September. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Tuesday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Monday 25 September.