ENGLAND: Birmingham – Thousands of children to lose “vital” child maintenance payments

ALMOST 15,000 youngsters in Birmingham could lose vital child maintenance payments if single parents are charged for the Government’s help to secure the cash, two charities warned.

The Child Support Agency, which currently enforces maintenance payments, is being wound down from next year.

From 2013, single parents who need help claiming cash will have to use the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, involving an application fee of up to £100 and ongoing charges of up to 12 per cent of the money collected by the organisation.

But childrens’ charities Gingerbread and Barnado’s warned the prices could leave almost three-quarters of Birmingham’s single parents without payments from their former partner and unable to afford the cost of asking for help.

The causes said 14,670 children of Birmingham’s 20,060 separated parents caring for children and using the CSA would be affected.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “The average child maintenance amount is now £22.50 per week through the CSA.

“That’s significant money for thousands of single parent families in Birmingham whose budgets are battered by austerity cuts.

“The Government says it wants to help separated families but CSA charges would rip money away from families who can’t manage without it. The Government must drop the charging plan.”

Neera Sharma, Barnardo’s assistant director of policy and research said: “The Government’s proposed charges are unjust and risk taking money away from children who need it most.”

Existing CSA clients will, over a phased two-year period starting in 2013, be asked to choose whether to use a new system run by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

Work and pensions minister Maria Miller said: “Our reforms will help and reward parents who make collaborative, family-based arrangements and free-up the state service to chase those who do not meet their financial responsibility to their children.”


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