SEA responds to announcement on new child maintenance powers

The Child Support Collection (Domestic Abuse) Bill was passed on the 29th of June.

This new law will allow the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to use its powers to collect and make payments on behalf of parents where one of them requests this on the grounds of domestic abuse. Victim-survivors will now be able to request Collect and Pay, without having to get agreement from the abuser or prove that the abuser is unlikely to pay child maintenance.

Sara D’Arcy, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Surviving Economic Abuse said, 

“Withholding child maintenance or making payments unreliably is economic abuse. It is a way for abusers to control an ex-partner and leaves victim-survivors unable to provide for their children and rebuild their lives.

“For many survivors who have cut contact with their ex-partner, it is too dangerous to arrange child maintenance payments directly. We’re pleased to see these new measures announced which will make it easier for survivors to get the payments they are owed safely, without having to contact an abuser. However, we are disappointed that the 4% charge imposed on the resident parent when using the Collect and Pay method has not been removed. We urge the government to remove this unfair charge as a follow-up to the new legislation. We would also like to work with the government to ensure that the evidence requirements reflect the reality of economic abuse for survivors.

“Child maintenance payments offer a lifeline to economic abuse survivors and their children who in many cases have to rebuild their lives from scratch after fleeing abuse, but abusers’ failure to pay is an ongoing issue. We urge the government to support victim-survivors of economic abuse by making minimum payments to them, while the Child Maintenance Service takes enforcement action, to prevent women and their children facing further financial hardship.”