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27 APR 2012

Sharp increase in Deduction Orders to recover child support

MoneyNew figures from the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) show a sharp increase in the use of enforcement powers against parents who refuse to pay.

The use of Deduction Orders - where money is removed directly from the non-paying parent's bank account - have trebled since 2009. In addition, driving disqualifications for non-payment have risen eightfold since 2008.

The total number of Deduction Orders authorised jumped from 335 in 2009-10 to 1,055 in April 2011-February 2012. Driving disqualifications increased from 5 in 2008-2009 to 40 in April 2011-February 2012.

However despite the increase use of enforcement powers, the Child Support Agency's (CSA) latest statistics show that more than 5,000 past and current CSA cases remain over £50,000 in arrears. The figures for January to March 2012 shows that 8% of cases with arrears owe between £5,000 and £10,000, 5.5% owe £10,000 to £20,000, 3.3% owe £20,000 to £50,000 and 0.5% owe over £50,000. The figures exclude the 104,000 cases managed off the main computer systems.

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller warned non-paying parents that the government will be stepping up its efforts to collect outstanding arrears.

"These shocking figures underline the long- term failure of a system that has let down countless families. We are now taking tougher action against those who have refused to pay. All parents who are still owed CSA arrears can be assured that we will take all reasonable steps to recover this money for them," Ms Miller said.

"Separated parents can also avoid the conflict that often comes with CSA involvement by making their own, family-based maintenance arrangements whenever possible. We've already committed £20 million for developing better co-ordinated local support services to help them do that. It will help the new state child maintenance service to concentrate more effectively on parents who deliberately cheat their children out of financial support," she added.

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