Urgent overhaul needed as failing Child Maintenance Service hindering attempts to tackle poverty

An urgent overhaul of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is desperately needed to help tackle child poverty, the SNP has said.

It comes as a report from the Work and Pensions Committee claimed issues with the CMS being slow and ineffective on enforcement for some parents and imposing unaffordable payments on others hindered efforts to tackle child poverty.

Recommendations from the report include ending Collect and Pay fees for low-income households, faster action from the CMS in cases where payments between parents are not working, and improving the speed and effectiveness of enforcement action to ensure children aren't missing out on maintenance due to them.

Commenting, the SNP's Social Justice spokesperson and member of the Work and Pensions Committee, David Linden MP said:

"Parents must have confidence that the CMS is there to properly support separated families and children while doing so in a fair way - it's clear that isn't currently the case.

"Whether it's through slow enforcement, the writing off of debt, or imposing unnecessary fees and unaffordable payments on families, the CMS is having a direct negative impact on many households' finances as they navigate a brutal cost of living crisis.

"If the Tories are to restore confidence in the system and focus efforts on tackling worryingly high rates of poverty and child poverty, exacerbated by their cost of living crisis, they will need to take on board this report's recommendations and urgently overhaul the CMS.

"The Department of Work and Pensions as a whole is one people have no confidence in, having been used by the Tories as an instrument to impose austerity and punish the poorest in society.

"With the full powers of independence we would continue the progressive work already carried out by the SNP Scottish Government using Scotland's limited powers to ensure dignity, fairness and respect is put at the heart of all social security operations."

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