More children from Hackney are receiving child maintenance than ever before and parents are worried that new Government plans will reduce the amount they received from their previous partners.
The number of children across Hackney benefiting from child maintenance payment has risen by 6.7 per cent, this is a higher increase than the rest of London which saw a rise of 5.9% last year leaving the current total at 75,290 children in London who receive payments from a parent who does not live with them.
Despite these figures, the Government plans to charge single parents for the retrieval of their child maintenance.
Gingerbread, a UK Charity, is concerned that the 1.1 million single parents currently depending on the state to get maintenance from their ex, will not be able to cope and will be at risk of low, sporadic and unenforceable private payments, if the CMEC begin charging for the service.
Jane Ahrends, spokesperson from Gingerbread, said: “Many single parents just can’t afford the proposed fee and so will be forced to do without the money since they cannot rely on their child’s other parent to pay up privately.
“Introducing charges would leave thousands of children without the child maintenance due to them. Of course it’s great when parents can collaborate over child support arrangements, but levying charges on those who can’t will only end up hurting children.”
Child Maintenance Commissioner, Stephen Geraghty, said: “Once regular payments are flowing, parents should consider whether a collaborative, family-based arrangement might work better for them. It could help to keep both parents involved in their children’s lives, benefiting them all in the long-term.“
Payments by absent parents have improved sharply since 2005, says the Child Maintenance Commission, when one in three were ignoring their obligations.
The government has recently announced plans for the wholesale reform of the child maintenance system, creating new incentives for parents to make family-based arrangements.
The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationship is running a project in Hackney with parents in conflict and distress and are helping an increasing numbers of parents who come to an agreement that they cannot stay living together but that they will carry on being good co-parents.
Honor Rhodes, director of TCCR, said: “Children need loving relationships with both parents which means that if children’s maintenance issues are more readily settled then they are likely to have good and enduring contact with the parent they do not live with.”