Inefficient CMS causes more problems than it solves

April 2, 2019

CSA/CMS has to be the most inefficient agency I have ever had to deal with.

When you read the news story about the exploitable loopholes in the system, it seems pretty clear that they are aware of the scale of the problem and yet there are Billions of unpaid child maintenance, contributing to child poverty all over the country. It beggars belief that single parents are left to struggle on their own for day to day care of their child.

With after school child care, commuting, and other work related expenses, the cost of working is made unsustainable for many single parents who will then fall back on a part time job and rely on benefits. This does not make sense. More should be done to collect unpaid maintenance so that the government does not have to pay the shortfall of absentee parents.

I was married for 15 years to an abusive partner. Following his arrest, I finally got it together to leave with my 2 children. I had always been the main earner, so at least I had the resources to house myself. After 2 years in family court and gruesome proceeding, I am able to move on. I found myself with quite a lot of legal bills and the sole care of the children and decided to apply for child maintenance through CMS.

I first spoke to Child option, who are free advice service. They asked me if I knew how much he father earned. I did as we had just gone over divorce and he had to disclose his income, provide bank statements and so on. At the time of application he was earning £580 Net a week.

Child option gave me an estimate figure of how much he should pay which should have been about £110/ week. This would not even cover the cost of the after school care for my youngest one but would have been a most welcome top up to my income. I work full time and earn what is considered a decent salary. However, as explained above, after paying for the regular cost of living in London, the child care of the 2 children and travel to work, I am left struggling to make end meet.

I got a decision from CMS in about 2 week, but to my shock they decided that the father should only pay £7 a week. What?

My ex is a sub contractor. Ah! the famous loophole! They based their calculation on the last tax return he filed which was in for the year ending April 2017, when we were still married and he was not working albeit teaching classes in the evening.

I got back to CMS, asking for a variation, on the basis that this did not reflect his current earnings. I provided them with all the evidence I obtain from divorce proceeding, however they said they could not rely on it. He was suppose to provide the evidence but was under no obligation to do so (??). The outdated tax return supersedes any other evidence and they had the cheek to tell me this was a “live update” from HM Revenue.

To top it all off, he is not even paying the meagre £30 a month he is supposed to and collecting it from him will be virtually impossible.

Reading the many sorries out there of similar situation, WHY is this endemic situation not being addressed as it should be? I am today considering quitting my job as I might be better off financially, less stressed and spending more time with my children. This is the true cost of the inefficiency of CMS.