Overhaul OF Child Maintenance System

Overhaul OF Child Maintenance System

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Claire Davidson started this petition to UK Parliament and
The current CMS system is not fit for purpose. It is based on the previous years P60 unless there is a variation of 25% in which case it changes to 'current earnings'. Current earnings basis is problematic as the onus is on the recipient parent to find out who employers are or what earnings are which is impossible. Too much reliance is based on the paying parent being truthful. At the moment the paying parent can be assessed on a minimum wage income briefly, then just tick a box saying their earnings haven't changed. They then aren't being upheld for committing a criminal offence by not informing CMS when earnings have significantly increased. Or they can change job frequently making it impossible to assess as they can't be assessed till they have worked somewhere for 12 weeks. Or if a P60 shows too high an income they just change job to a low paid one to get assessed and then go back to their previous higher earnings.

Give CMS access to real time HMRC information.
Solution 1- do away with current earnings completely and always use P60 information. if the paying parent cannot afford to pay the amount based on last years p60 it can be accrued until their earnings pick up again. That way they are only ever 1 year behind on absolute earnings.
Solution 2- use the current year's p60 every year in the way tax credits do so over and underpayments can be recovered within a few months of the year end of the tax year.
Solution 3- claim the amount directly from their payslip each month
Solution 4- for contractors to be assessed as earning minimum wage for 30 hours per week as a default unless they can prove otherwise for the first 12 weeks

Every year for 4 years I have had problems with CMS.
In 2015 our case started. My ex handed in information showing he was earning £40k per year but he actually earned £70k. In his industry basic salary is only about 60% of what he earns. I had to go to mandatory reconsiderations and make repeated phone calls to staff who were rude , unhelpful and who couldn't understand simple concepts like the difference between basic salary and earnings.
In 2016 he was made redundant but actually worked for a full year offshore job hopping between contractors and the only job he voluntarily advised CMS of was a minimum wage job working for his friend for a couple of months so that they could assess him on that. (how convenient) We received a few months of maintenance from this minimum wage job but his P60 in the end showed he earned £30k so we should have had £3,600. He worked for the whole year, not missing a days work.
In 2016 he changed job and worked offshore again but did not inform CMS or advise of pay increases he just ticked a box saying he was still earning the same as his minimum wage job. Twice I had to find out new employers and I had to get my MP involved to resolve this. In December the following year they got hold of a payslip that by now was 9 months out of date and assessed him as earning £30,000 which I queried as his earnings could be £50k to £70k for his job but that was the best they could do. He already knew his earnings had breached the 25% threshold by this point 9 months into the year as he actually earned £54k. He was legally obliged at any point from Jan 18 when this assessment was made to April 18 to inform them within 7 days if his earnings breached £37,500 as he was on a current earnings basis. This information is readily available on his YTD on his payslip every month. He kept quiet. At annual review they then saw his previous P60 of £30k (the one where we didn't get maintenance on that figure anyway becuase he lied about his current earnings) they saw the miscalculation they had made as being £30k so put him back on P60 earnings of £30k form his previous uncomparable period of job hopping) etc. It took me 2 years to find out his real earnings via a P60 and CMS will not backdate or re open it any further despit him commiting fraud and committing an illegal offence. During this time, I have relocated twice, the last time a move of 300 miles to be near my family and find better employment. Our household income during this period due to other matters such as legal fees and ill health has varied between 1/5 and 9/10 of the relative and absolute poverty thresholds. We rely on that maintenance to lift our household out of the poverty thresholds. I have used food banks, relied on hand me down clothes and my health has certainly suffered. My son and I slept on a mattress on the floor for 5 months because we moved house and had no bed. It has caused huge conflict in a already stressful situation. I have had abuse from his girlfriend if I have ever asked for anything for my son and it has been questioned that I should sell my car instead ( I bought a sensible car outright before all this started incase of times ahead when I wouldn't be able to afford repayments, I need to hold down a job and it is my lifeline as I am disabled) This is because from her side of the fence he uses CMS so I must just be a money grabber if I ask for anything. Meanwhile I can be receiving nothing even though he is working. And he has basically fiddled the CMS system to the tune of £7,000 in 3 years. The benevolent fund for my profession has bailed us out repeatedly throughout this time. I cannot understand how I have to rely on charitable grants and handouts to support us when CMS has let us down. How can someone earning £30,00 be assessed as nil for 9 months of the year? How can someone earning £54,000 be assessed as earning minimum wage for another 10 months? And then for another 2 years as earning £30,000?And so it continues.....Please help. There are people with worse stories than mine, there are even websites devoted to 'how to avoid paying child maintenance'. Thank you.
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