‘My ex has a sports car and a luxury holiday – but owes me £20,000 child support’
The vast majority of parents – 93% – who have to pay child support are men and child support can be paid privately or through an agreement with the CMS.
The government-run department can deduct alimony from income, confiscate driver’s licenses and passports, or send offending parents to jail. Earlier this month he announced he would soon suit negligent parents who fail to pay child support with electronic tags and place them under curfew.
But mothers who owe tens of thousands of pounds in child support doubt the new powers are doing anything to help their children.
A Telegraph reader has received a payout in the four years since she turned to the CMS for help and now owes £20,000. She said the wealthy father of her child managed to dodge his responsibilities by paying himself a small salary, while enjoying a six-figure dividend from his company.
She added: “He has the sports car, the designer watch and the luxury vacation, but he intends to deviate from his obligations by using every possible loophole.
“The system fails badly and the threat of electronic tagging seems frankly arbitrary as it takes me years to implement the application with little success.”
Victoria Benson of Gingerbread, a charity for single parents, said it was common for absent parents to go to “tremendous lengths” to avoid paying for their children.
She said: “The DWP must fill these gaps and the CMS must use its powers to root out persistent missed payments.
“If they can’t, the government needs to put in place a system that properly supports children and closes the household income gap created by parents who don’t contribute.”
During the first quarter of this year, almost 61,000 parents failed to pay their former spouse and children the amounts due through the CMS. Earlier this year, MPs warned the DWP was failing the 1.8 million children from separated families who received no support from an absent parent.
A damning report by the Public Accounts Committee concluded that enforcement was ‘too slow to be effective’ in cases where children had been financially abandoned by a parent.
Ms Beckett has called the CMS every day for the past two weeks and spent hours on hold seeking payments for her children, while working full time.
She added: “The three children need new shoes. Getting the money owed to us would make a huge difference in their lives.
“The worst thing is how rude most of the people who work at CMS are, it seriously damages your health. They make you feel privileged to get a payment, rather than being entitled to it.
Research by the University of York in 2019 found that 60% of single-parent families who lived in poverty and did not receive child support would exceed the subsistence level if they received the money owed to them.
A DWP spokesperson said CMS was a “significantly better service than its predecessor” – the discredited Child Support Agency which ceased to exist a decade ago.
He added: “CMS secured a record £1billion for children of separated parents last year. We’re continuing to improve it by automating simple processes, spending more time with vulnerable customers, and empowering us to fight parents who stubbornly refuse to pay what they owe.