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Alex accuses DWP of treating vulnerable families as ‘non-essential’

Families are being left without vital cash owed by former partners because the Government considers their plight “non-essential”.  

Despite the significant financial challenges facing families with children, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are failing to take timely action or address outstanding cases on child maintenance within a reasonable timeframe, according to Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.

Child maintenance payments are a financial lifeline for a huge number of parents across the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that more families facing hardship than ever before will be reliant on those payments made by the other parent of the child. Despite this, the DWP website has said that some of their services such as child maintenance will be affected whilst they focus on essential services – effectively deeming child maintenance payments as ‘non-essential’.

With the DWP allocating resources elsewhere, this means that parents – and children – are having to go even longer without the financial resource to fund essentials. It also means that where a parent has been making payments through CMS but may have lost their job due to mass redundancies up and down the country, the DWP are not recalculating the appropriate payment that needs to be made which simply causes further hardship on both parents.

Speaking about DWP’s failure on child maintenance services, Alex Cunningham MP said:

“I am appalled that this Government has seen fit to consider the securing of payments to support children who may be living in poverty as ‘non-essential’.

“My office has been dealing with cases where one parent has been unable to recover child maintenance payments from the other parent and the DWP have simply said that they are too busy right now to respond properly to the case. COVID-19 has been a crisis in our country for nearly 6 months, and it is unacceptable that unlike other organisations the DWP have not adapted to be able to provide key services such as child maintenance.

“I am disappointed that it seems to be a formal position of the department to downgrade the priority of collecting payments for the support and care of children to ‘non-essential’, when so many families are dependent on both parents contributing financially to the upbringing of children.”