5th November 2014
Parents who miss child maintenance payments could soon be turned down for a mortgage under Government plans for this information to be shared with credit reference agencies.
From March next year, parents’ payment records for child maintenance could be passed to credit reference firms like Experian and Equifax which are used by companies to decide whether or not to lend to customers.
The information-sharing would only affect cases where “liability orders” have been granted, where the courts have stepped in because parents have fallen a long way behind with payments, however the Government hopes that it would still serve as a deterrent.
Child maintenance minister Steve Webb said: “For too long, a minority of absent parents have got away with failing to pay maintenance, leaving families without that financial support.
“I would hope that we see this power used very little, because the deterrent effect of a possible negative mark on a person’s credit rating will convince those who have previously failed to pay towards their children’s upbringing to do the right thing.”
Parents with a good payment record will also be able to ask that this information is shared if they feel that it could boost their ability to get credit.
Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity for single parents, said: “More than £1bn is currently owed in unpaid child maintenance, and barely one in five of those who owe money for their children are paying it back.”