SNP MP Angela Crawley calls for end to ‘cruel and callous’ child maintenance charges for domestic abuse victims
The SNP equalities spokesperson has launched a petition against charges for direct child maintenance collections for victims of domestic abuse
Angela Crawley MP launches petition against charges for child maintenance collection for victims of domestic abuse
The SNP is calling for an end to the “cruel and callous” charges on child maintenance payments for victims of domestic abuse.
SNP Westminster equalities spokesperson Angela Crawley MP launched a petition yesterday calling for the UK Government to scrap the four per cent collection charge on child maintenance payments for parents using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)’s ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service.
Payments made to the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service are managed by CMS and can be removed directly from the payer’s bank account without the need for direct contact.
The ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service also has enforcement powers available to ensure maintenance is paid.
Victims of domestic violence are currently exempt from the £20 application fee, but not from the monthly charges.
In response to a written question tabled by Angela Crawley MP, the UK Government said the charges are in place to encourage parents to pause and consider whether they require the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service – encouraging parents to use the less bureaucratic ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme instead.
However, Angela Crawley MP stressed that the ‘Direct-Pay’ service does not offer the same protections as ‘Collect-and-Pay’.
Commenting on the response, Crawley said: “Victims of domestic abuse should be protected by the UK government, not punished financially for their inability to engage with their abusive ex-partner.
“The UK government advises victims of domestic abuse that they should utilise the less safe ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme, which has no powers of enforcement and allows continued communication through bank transfers.
“The Tories have shown a complete lack of compassion by introducing this charge and even worse, they actually risk putting the lives of domestic abuse victim-survivors and their children in real danger.
“The UK government must look again at this unfair tax and listen to the cross-party calls to scrap it – ultimately, it will be the children that child maintenance payments are intended to support who will lose out.”
The campaign has been welcomed by organisations campaigning for victims of domestic abuse.
David Bartlett, chief executive of the White Ribbon Campaign, said: “We applaud Angela Crawley MP’s initiative, which could make a real difference how safe it is for survivors of domestic abuse to claim child maintenance from the other parent.
“This will in turn help protect children from falling into poverty, and help ensure that maintenance is paid reliably and fully.”
And Marsha Scott of Scottish Women’s Aid commented: "It may be a right for women to live free from fear and abuse, but it is far from a reality.
“We welcome this petition and would urge the public to get behind it to put an end to the four per cent collection charge for victim-survivors.
“Women in general are disproportionately affected by poverty and paid labour market discrimination.
“Women experiencing domestic abuse face numerous additional challenges in leaving abusive partners, including being financially dependent.
“Child maintenance is critical for women's financial independence, and to ensuring that they are not subject to further abuse that current policy - albeit unwittingly - colludes with.”
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