East Dunbartonshire MP urges constituents to oppose tax on domestic abuse victims

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John Nicolson, MP for East Dunbartonshire, has voiced support for a campaign to scrap the Tory government policy which sees victims of domestic abuse taxed for exerting their right to child maintenance.

SNP Westminster equalities spokesperson Angela Crawley MP has launched a petition calling for the UK Government to end the 4% collection charge on child maintenance payments for parents using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service.

Speaking at the launch of the petition, she said: “Victims of domestic abuse should be protected by the UK Government, not punished financially for their inability to engage with their abusive ex-partner.

“The UK Government advises victims of domestic abuse that they should utilise their less safe ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme, which has no powers of enforcement and allows continued communication through bank transfers.”

Payments made to the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ scheme are managed by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and can be removed directly from the paying parent’s bank account. It has enforcement powers to ensure maintenance is paid on time and in full. Furthermore, the CMS exempts victims of domestic violence from the £20 application fee, but does not make any exemptions from the monthly charges.

In response to a written question tabled by Crawley, the UK Government said the charges are in place to encourage parents to pause and consider whether they require the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service. Instead, they encourage parents to utilise the less bureaucratic ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme. However, the ‘Direct-Pay’ service does not offer the same protections as ‘Collect-and-Pay’ and can continue the cycle of abuse.

“The Tories have shown a complete lack of compassion by introducing this charge and, even worse, they actually risk putting the lives of domestic abuse victim-survivors and their children in real danger” she said, in response to the government’s policy.

“The UK Government must look again at this unfair tax and listen to calls from charities, the public and MPs to scrap it – ultimately, it will be the children that child maintenance payments are intended to support who will lose out.

John is urging his constituents to go online and sign the petition at www.domesticabusevictimtax.co.uk.