As 39 dads and one mum are in court - local parents owe £7m to CSA
PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 May 2012 | UPDATED: 11:47 28 May 2012
PARENTS in Weston owe more than £7million in unpaid child support to former partners and the Government, as part of a nationwide debt of almost £4billion, new figures show.
The Child Support Agency (CSA) payments are meant to ensure separated parents still pay towards their child’s upbringing, providing money for food and clothing.
Last week, 39 indebted dads and one mum were called to North Somerset Courthouse charged by the CSA with non-payment of child support money totalling £153,405.33 collectively.
Among them, Keith Gibson, aged 49, of Mead Vale, Worle, was ordered to pay £6,409.60 in weekly payments of £25, or face a 38-day suspended sentence, while Anthony Knight, aged 42, of Berkerly Crescent, Uphill, was ordered to pay £1,875.82 at £20 per week, or face a 42-day suspended sentence.
The figures show there is more than £300million of unpaid arrears in the South West and some £3.8billion nationally.
But the Government estimates only £1billion of the total is likely to be collected, meaning parents could miss out on vital money needed to raise their children.
The figures include the total debt racked up by non-paying parents since the agency was formed in 1993, including fines imposed for failing to provide details.
A total of £7,401,100 is owed by parents in the Weston parliamentary constituency area, including £4,475,200 owed by parents to former partners, with the remaining £2,925,900 owed to the Government.
The figure is the fifth-highest in the South West, the highest being Plymouth Moor View at £9,840,200 with Bristol West the lowest at £3,044,600.
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, which runs the CSA, also revealed that roughly half of all children in separated families are brought up in poverty.
Since 2009, the Government has attempted to track down the missing money, with deduction orders – which sees money removed directly from debtors’ accounts – tripling in the past three years.
The figures also show that eight per cent of cases with arrears owe between £5,000 and £10,000, 5.5 per cent owe £10,000-£20,000, 3.3 per cent owe £20,000-£50,000 and 0.4 per cent owe more than £50,000.
Work and Pensions minister Maria Miller said: “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.
“Separated parents can avoid the conflict that often comes with CSA involvement by making their own, family-based maintenance arrangements whenever possible.
“We’ve already committed £20million 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.”
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