Article reposted from PCS.org
The government has introduced charging for using the Child Maintenance Service which means only 80% of the total money paid by the ‘paying parent’ will now end up going to the child in maintenance, with 20% effectively taken as tax. As 60% of single parent families struggle financially, this move will increase levels of child poverty and unfairly penalise those most in need.
Given that a study by the Nuffield Foundation in conjunction with Gingerbread found that “in 2012, for one in five of these parents receiving maintenance, their maintenance lifted them out of poverty,” the consequences are likely to be devastating and raises serious questions about the ability of the government to meet its child poverty targets – which it plans to scrap.
Charging officially started in June 2014 but the large majority of ‘paying cases’ are expected to transfer over from this month.
Cases from the old system are gradually being moved over to the new one where charges will apply, including:
- a flat £20 application charge for using the service
- a charge of 20% of the total maintenance assessment for the paying parent, and
- a 4% deducted from the total assessment prior to it going to the receiving parent.
Taxing our kids
The charges mean that only 80% of the total money paid by the ‘paying parent’ will now end up going to the child, with 20% effectively taken as tax. As the majority of single parent families struggle financially, this move can only exacerbate levels of child poverty and unfairly penalise those most in need.
The Tories see the charges as a deterrent to using the service, with the government estimating that 100,000 families will stop using it as a result.
However, this doesn’t mean that families will be able to make alternative arrangements. The charity Gingerbread warns that this will lead to unstable arrangements, or in many cases no arrangement at all, leaving single parents without much needed support and undermining the main purpose of the service.
The introduction of charges could also lead to increased conflict between parents, especially if one parent views that they are being penalised by the actions of the other. This will impact on the child as it often results in reduced contact between the child and the non-resident parent.
The government plans to review the service in December 2016, but because of these concerns we are calling for an urgent review of the introduction of charges.
Email your MP to back our campaign by signing Early Day Motion 186.