‘Special place in hell’ for parents who can support their children but do not
There is a “special place in hell” for parents who have the means to support their children but deliberately fail to do so, a Conservative former minister said.
Caroline Nokes said she did not want a Commons debate on the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) – which helps facilitate child maintenance payments when parents cannot agree – to “degenerate into an attack on the hard-working staff”.
Ms Noakes added: “Actually, I know from my own experience how diligent they are, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, trying to track down both parents who are refusing to pay and indeed investigating those very difficult cases where they are deliberately hiding their income.
“I have to say I think there is a special place in hell for those who go out of their way to disguise income in order to prevent their former partner from being able to feed their children, buy school shoes or a new winter coat.”
Conservative MP Dr Kieran Mullan (Crewe and Nantwich) said such parents were the “lowest of the low”.
He told the Commons: “I don’t know every single non-paying parents’ circumstances but I’m not willing to hold back on my criticism of parents who could pay but don’t – for a fear of upsetting those who can’t.
“Let me be clear in my views. Not financially supporting your children when you could is completely and utterly reprehensible.
“If you do this you are the lowest of the low.”
SNP MP Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) said the Child Maintenance Service needs reform.
She said: “The Child Maintenance Service has been and still is a fundamentally broken system which requires urgent action through a root and branch review and in spite of calls from across the chamber, from One Parent Families Scotland and Gingerbread, they’re still to make the necessary changes.
“Nearly 750,000 children across the UK rely on the Child Maintenance Service. Where children of single parents who are both in poverty and not receiving maintenance, if they actually receive this payment it would lift 60% of all cases out of poverty.
“The way in which the Child Maintenance Service has operated during this pandemic has simply exacerbated the existing problems.
“The whole of the DWP has been under pressure during the pandemic and staff have been working under incredible pressure to ensure benefits are paid as quickly as possible.
“DWP (Department for Work and Pension) staff have been rightly congratulated on what they have done, but this has affected the CMS service which was failing many families before Covid-19 struck.”
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