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In a consultation paper published just before the December holiday season, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is the Government department that deals with child maintenance payment arrangements, outlined significant powers that would enable it to better enforce the payment of child maintenance. Arrears of payments can cause very significant hardship to those who rely on them. The Government estimates that it would cost more than £1.5 billion to collect the outstanding arrears.
Among the powers being sought are that DWP officials would be permitted to confiscate the passports of people who fall seriously behind in the payment of child maintenance and to ban those who do so from holding a UK passport for up to two years. In addition, it would be able to deduct arrears directly from the business accounts of miscreant payers. The seizure of money from joint bank accounts has already been recommended.
Changes are also proposed to the way available assets are calculated, with a view to increasing the sums that can be used for maintenance payments.