Single parents owed millions in unpaid child maintenance

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Single parents around the district are owed almost £20m in unpaid child maintenance, latest figures reveal.

And figures broken down by parliamentary constituency show families in Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford are owed more than £6.6m, the most of any area in the UK.

A total of £19.9m is owed to families district-wide, according to figures obtained by charity Gingerbread. The latest figure was £4.6m for the Wakefield constituency, just over £5m for Hemsworth and £3.7m for Morley and Outwood..

The charity, which helps single parent families, has accused the Child Support Agency (CSA) of failing to collect outstanding monies which are vital to help struggling parents heat their homes and feed and clothe kids.

The government is closing the CSA and replacing it with the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

Gingerbread, claims the CSA is doing less to chase unpaid cash as it is wound down, and that it is not clear what the CMS will do to chase the arrears transferred to it.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “The failure of the CSA to collect these millions of pounds of child maintenance means that children are going without and single parents have been left poorer. Child poverty in single parent families is set to double in the next four years, so it’s even more essential that this money is collected.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said the CMS would charge parents if they need help to get unpaid funds.

She said: “The new replacement body will actually charge single parents £300 if they want help to get the money back their children are entitled to. So most people won’t be able to afford to pay up, the arrears will get even worse and children will lose out.”