GOVERNMENT ministers have pledged to recover millions of pounds’ worth of child maintenance arrears in south east Northumberland.
Work and pensions minister Maria Miller has promised to clamp down on irresponsible parents failing to support their children after separation.
Child Support Agency (CSA) data for Blyth Valley shows that £7,519,000 is owed in unpaid child maintenance arrears.
More than three quarters of that total – £5,044,000 – is money owed to parents caring for children, with the rest being owed to the Government.
In Wansbeck, the arrears figure, built up over the last 19 years, is equally bleak, now totalling £6,902,300, some £4,260,600 of which is owed to parents.
Ms Miller, pictured, said: “These shocking figures underline the long-term failure of a system that has let down countless families.
“We are now taking tougher action against those who have refused to pay.
“All parents still owed CSA arrears can be assured that we will take all reasonable steps to recover this money for them.
“Separated parents can avoid the conflict that often comes with CSA involvement by making their own, family-based maintenance arrangements whenever possible.
“We’ve already committed £20m for developing better co-ordinated local support services to help them do that.
“It will help the new state child maintenance service to concentrate more effectively on parents who deliberately cheat their children out of financial support.”
The Government confirmed that it is committed to introducing further enforcement powers for use against parents who refuse to pay.