Taxpayers are forking out hundreds of thousands of pounds a year on DNA paternity tests after mothers seeking maintenance wrongly identified the father of their child.
Last year, £387,000 went on tests which turned out to be the wrong man because the mother has slept with so many men that she has no idea who the father actually is.
Another £160,000 was spent by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission on tests which turned out to be correct – meaning they could be recouped from the father.
In some cases, the taxpayer pays for multiple tests when the mother is unable to identify one man as the father. There is no limit to the number of tests a person can ask for.
The CMES orders around 3,000 paternity tests a year when paternity is contested in child maintenance cases. If the test proves negative, the cost has to be met out of public funds.
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A source at the organisation said: ‘It’s sad that we need to provide this service in the first place to force people to take responsibility for their children. It’s an ordeal, it costs money and it takes time.
‘Sometimes mothers are unsure who the father is so we have to carry out multiple tests. We have had cases where we have to test as many as three people before finding a match. It’s a lot of money before a case can even be opened.’
A spokesman for the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘It’s important that the Government does everything possible to chase down fathers so they can pay maintenance.
‘But that can’t be providing paternity tests for half the town when the woman has no idea who father of the child is.’
In 2010/11 there were 3,212 tests taken by alleged fathers disputing paternity, and of these 526 – 16.4 per cent – were negative.
There were 112,800 applications made to the Child Support Agency, with paternity contested in around 3 per cent of cases – successfully so in 0.5 per cent of cases.