Maintenance bill ‘should tackle child poverty’

A group of child welfare charities have made calls for the government to increase efforts to tackle child poverty, it has emerged.

The Child Poverty Action Group and NCH, the children’s charity, are calling for the issue to be central to the upcoming child maintenance and other payments bill, CAF online reports.

Part of the bill, announced last week, proposes replacing the Child Support Agency [CSA] with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC)

The new body is intended to have more substantial powers to enforce the payment of child maintenance by non-resident parents.

Proposed reforms include CMEC’s ability to electronically tag defaulters, impose curfews and confiscate passports.

The CSA has long been troubled by its lack of powers to require payment from defaulters, resulting in a backlog of more than 300,000 cases.

Secretary of state for work and pensions John Hutton said: "There are a small number of parents who seem to think that paying for their kids is something they can simply choose not to do. It isn’t.

"And these new powers would mean that non-payment brings real and lasting penalties."