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Ministerial Corrections

Volume 684: debated on Monday 16 November 2020

Ministerial Correction

Monday 16 November 2020

Work and Pensions

Topical Questions

The following is an extract from Work and Pensions topical questions on 19 October 2020.

A number of my constituents are receiving letters out of the blue saying that the Child Maintenance Service is writing off unpaid payments as part of a review of historical debt. Will my right hon. Friend tell me the basis for the review, what the criteria are for the cases, how many are involved, and by what means personal advance notice of the changes is being given to the people concerned?

My understanding is that the policy relates to people who have had child maintenance arrangements for a very long time. There comes a point when there is an element of understanding the different debts. My hon. Friend will be aware that, in a way, this is a very odd arrangement, with the state effectively becoming the arbiter between two parents. The only people who lose are the children. That is why I encourage everybody who has a responsibility towards their children—currently 111,000 children are owed £187 million by parents who refuse to pay up—to get on and do the right thing by them. We should not end up having to rely on the state to arbitrate between two parents.

[Official Report, 19 October 2020, Vol. 682, c. 753.]

Letter of correction from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the right hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey).

An error has been identified in the response I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill)

The correct response should have been.

A number of my constituents are receiving letters out of the blue saying that the Child Maintenance Service is writing off unpaid payments as part of a review of historical debt. Will my right hon. Friend tell me the basis for the review, what the criteria are for the cases, how many are involved, and by what means personal advance notice of the changes is being given to the people concerned?

My understanding is that the policy relates to people who have had child maintenance arrangements for a very long time. There comes a point when there is an element of understanding the different debts. My hon. Friend will be aware that, in a way, this is a very odd arrangement, with the state effectively becoming the arbiter between two parents. The only people who lose are the children. That is why I encourage everybody who has a responsibility towards their children—as of the end of June 2020, £362 million in unpaid maintenance was owed by parents—to get on and do the right thing by them. We should not end up having to rely on the state to arbitrate between two parents.