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Mercury constituencies rack up £13m in CSA

In a report released by single parent charity Gingerbread, figures show that children in the parliamentary constituency of North East Herts are owed a total of £4,530,000, in Broxbourne a total of £5,017,000 and in Hertford and Stortford £3,938,000.

Commenting on the figures, Gingerbread’s chief executive Fiona Weir explained that child maintenance was vital for children in separated families and that the scale of the debt was ‘truly shocking.’

MP for Broxbourne Charles Walker said: “The Child Support Agency was not one of the greatest ideas of the early 1990s. We need to make sure that people who have children are responsible for them and that parents are making contributions towards there maintenance and up keep. I am disappointed that so much money is outstanding and we need to discover a way to ensure in the years ahead that the situation improves.”

In the last year, the Child Support Agency missed its debt collection target by £23million collecting £147million of arrears against a target of £170million.

MP for North East Herts Oliver Heald said: “I am shocked at the level of outstanding child maintenance clocked up because of the last Government’s failed Child Support system. North East Hertfordshire is not the worst area, but £4.5 million is still massive. I hope the new coalition can eventually tackle this mountain of debt as well as the national one.”

Nationally, the amount of child maintenance owed is £3,761 million.

Chair of the Child Maintenance Commission which oversees the CSA, Dame Janet Paraskeva, said: “Step-by-step the Commission is closing the escape routes for parents who think they can cheat their children out of money from which they are entitled to benefit. No longer can houses, cars and other valuable assets be sold off quickly to prevent the Child Support Agency taking possession of them. We are sending a clear message to all parents who have run up substantial maintenance arrears.”