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Government to close child maintenance cheat loophole

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Parents who avoid paying child maintenance will have money deducted from their accounts as the government’s set to close a loophole which allows them to cheat the system.

Currently, if a parent owes child maintenance, the money can only be recovered from an account if it’s held solely in their name.

However, some parents are cheating their way out of supporting their children by putting money into a joint account with a partner.

But the government is set to clampdown on this practice by bringing in new laws allowing money to be deducted from joint accounts.

However, the deduction order will only be imposed on a joint account if the paying parent doesn’t have their own account, or there is not enough money in their own account.

And only their share of money can be targeted – bank statements will be examined to find out which money in the account belongs to the parent.

As part of the consultation, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said existing safeguards for deduction orders for child maintenance will apply to this new power, including the maximum deduction rate set at 40% of the paying parent’s weekly income.

Further, both account holders will be given the right to make their case before a deduction order is made.

By closing this loophole, it will stop a number of parents from getting away with not paying the child maintenance. This, the DWP said, would lead to more than £390,000 additional child maintenance being collected.

Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Caroline Dinenage, said: “Our priority is for children to get the support they need. Only a small minority of parents try to cheat their way out of paying towards their children and this new power will be another tool to tackle those who do.”

The government has set out a consultation on the proposed move which will come into effect early next year.

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