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Credit threat to child maintenance dodgers

Parents who refuse to pay child maintenance face being turned down for credit cards and mortgages.

Under government plans, details of those who default on contributions towards their child's upbringing will be shared with credit reference agencies, threatening their credit score.

Having a weak credit rating can mean people are refused forms of financial credit such as personal loans, mortgages, credit cards, hire purchase finance arrangements and mobile phone contracts.

Even if someone is not turned down for credit, a blotted history could mean that they are given a smaller credit limit or charged a worse rate of interest.

Information about non-payment of child maintenance could be shared with credit reference agencies at the point where a liability order is made against a parent.

These are granted after an application is made to a court for legal recognition of a debt.

Just under 1.5 million child maintenance cases are being overseen by the Child Maintenance Service and the Child Support Agency and in the majority of cases, parents who no longer live in the family home do contribute towards their child's upbringing.

Between April 2013 and March 2014, 12,410 liability orders were granted.

The new powers, which are subject to parliamentary approval, will also mean that parents with a good payment record can ask that this information is shared if they feel that it could boost their ability to get credit.

Child Maintenance Minister Steve Webb said: "For too long, a minority of absent parents have got away with failing to pay maintenance, leaving families without that financial support.

"This Government is determined to take action to tackle this kind of irresponsible behaviour and support families.

"I would hope that we see this power used very little, because the deterrent effect of a possible negative mark on a person's credit rating will convince those who have previously failed to pay towards their children's upbringing to do the right thing."

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