Child maintenance costs mounting in Suffolk

SUFFOLK: Unpaid child maintenance costs totalling �30million are owed to separated families in the county, a new report claimed today.

Figures released by the charity Gingerbread show that vast sums of money are owed to children and their families by non-resident parents.

The report showed that in West Suffolk a total of �6,388,000 of unpaid maintenance has accumulated.

In Ipswich the figure is �5,895,000, Suffolk Coastal is �5,097,000, Bury St Edmunds is �4,676,000, South Suffolk is �4,431,000 and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is �4,410,000.

The report named Grimsby as the area owing the UK’s most maintenance costs at �11,069,000.

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Gingerbread’s chief executive Fiona Weir said: “We know from single parents that child maintenance 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 (CSA) has to do its job too in collecting debts and enforcing payment.

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

A spokesperson for the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission said: “While the Commission shares Gingerbread’s view that responsibility for unpaid maintenance rests ultimately with non-resident parents, it should be noted that CSA arrears have actually been falling recently. “In the year to March 2010, they were down from �3,783 million to �3,761m – an average reduction of �5.6m per month.

“Regrettably some parents go to great lengths to avoid their financial responsibility to their children, requiring costly and time-consuming enforcement action to be taken against them.

“But we do not give up on cases and nor do we write off accumulated arrears.”

n Parents who want to pursue child maintenance arrears can call Gingerbread’s Single Parent Helpline on 0808 802 0925.

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