MPs shock at child maintenance arrears

More than �4.5million owed in North East Herts

According to research by single parent charity Gingerbread, more than �4.5million is owed by parents in Mr Heald’s North East Herts constituency.

The MP blamed what he called the “failed” child support system employed by the last government, and added: ““I am shocked at the level of outstanding child maintenance that has been clocked up.

“North East Hertfordshire is not the worst area, but �4.5 million is still massive.

“I hope the new coalition can eventually tackle this mountain of debt as well as the national one.”

The total arrears across the country amounts to �3,761million of unpaid benefits.

Gingerbread’s chief executive Fiona Weir said: “Child maintenance is vital for children in separated families.

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“We know from single parents that this is much-needed money which pays for items such as children’s clothes, school meals, trips, and activities and childcare.

“Ultimately the responsibility for paying child maintenance rests with the non-resident parent, but the Child Support Agency has to do its job too in collecting debts and enforcing payment.

“We want to help single parents caring for children to take action to ensure their arrears are paid.”

Any parents experiencing difficulties in getting money can call Gingerbread’s free Single Parent Helpline, 0808 802 0925.

The charity will then send them a free leaflet on how to pursue their child maintenance arrears.