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Maintenance matters

Today, 3.1 million children are living in single parent families. When parents live apart, they have a responsibility to financially support their child so they have an adequate standard of living. This support, known as child maintenance, is vital for a child’s well-being.

Across the country, a staggering £4 billion is owed in child maintenance arrears. With changes to the child maintenance system taking place, we need to ensure that unpaid maintenance isn't swept under the carpet and forgotten about. The government must not walk away from the task of collecting unpaid maintenance debts. 

Please take action and call on your MP to act now.

Missing maintenance

Children living in single parent families are almost twice at risk of poverty compared to children in coupled families. Government cuts to welfare, and the rise in living costs means that maintenance matters even more.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is there to help parents financially support their children. When parents don’t pay, the CMS can step in to help. But despite good intentions, the service in its current state is simply not working. Action must be taken to ensure children don’t go without.

Maintenance matters calls for:

A fairer charging system

  • Single parents on low incomes shouldn’t have to pay the £20 application fee
  • The 4% collection charge should be scrapped
  • Domestic abuse survivors should be given an option to be fast-tracked to ‘Collect & Pay and to be exempt from collection charges

Zero tolerance on non payment

  • The CMS must ensure maintenance is paid in full and on time, and take prompt enforcement action to deter non-payment
  • The government cannot walk away from the task of collecting unpaid maintenance debts from CSA and CMS cases
  • Avoidance of maintenance should be treated in the same way as tax avoidance. The government should work with HMRC to close loopholes that allow parents to avoid payments or to pay less than they should


See our advice and information about child maintenance.

If you're a parent who has experienced domestic abuse, please read our advice about using the child maintenance system safely.