Unpaid child maintenance payments have reached a staggering £3.8 billion, a new study has revealed.
The figures, published by BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, show that around 1.2 million parents are owed money from their former partners.
It says that the majority of these missed payments accumulated under the Child Support Agency (CSA), which has since been replaced by a new service, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
However, it found that a further £93 million of unpaid child maintenance has already developed under the new system.
Janet Allbeson, from single parents charity Gingerbread, said the powers DWP possess to collect maintenance are “very seldom used”.
She added that the uncollected figure was “a huge, startling number”.
“People can’t quite believe it, and do a double take. And it’s money that’s built up over a long time.”
Ms Allbeson called for the Government to offer compensation to those who are owed payments.
“They shouldn’t just be able to walk away and say it’s history when it’s due to their errors and their poor practice that money hasn’t been collected. That’s wrong and the government should pay for that,” she said.
The Department for Work and Pensions said: “We actively pursue non-resident parents to recover unpaid maintenance and we are transferring existing arrears from the CSA to the CMS.
“The new system is designed to encourage parents to come to their own family-based arrangement.”
It said parents “are paying towards the money owed” in 90 per cent of cases.