The single parent charity Gingerbread has warned that new charges beginning today (11 August 2014) for parents using the government’s new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will take vital money from children.

In addition to the £20 application fee that has already been brought into force, from today other charges will apply to parents who use the CMS’s collection service.

The collection service directly collects payments from the paying parent and passes them on to the receiving parent. An additional charge of 20% will be levied to the paying parent and the government will keep this money. The CMS will then also deduct 4% from the child’s maintenance before passing the remaining money onto the other parent.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said “The government’s new charges will take money from children. Child maintenance makes a real difference to children’s lives and it is simply wrong for the government to take this money because their other parent has failed to pay when they should.”

Gingerbread estimates that on average the collection charges will see affected single parent families losing more than £70 a year. This is equivalent to a term of school dinners.

An alternative CMS system, "Direct Pay", can be used for a £20 one-off payment. The Department of Work and Pensions estimates that 39% of parents within the Child Maintenance System currently use the Direct Pay service.

The new fees are primarily designed to encourage separated couples to come to their own financial arrangements – but for many couples this is simply not possible.

The full Gingerbread press release can be read here: