Last week we saw a powerful debate in the UK Parliament over the United Nation’s International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the launch of my colleague Eilidh Whiteford’s Bill on ratifying the Istanbul Convention. These illustrate all of our desires to move towards a society where both men and women are able to live free from fear and abuse.
Unfortunately, that is not yet a reality and domestic violence still exists. Therefore, government has a moral duty to ensure that all victims of domestic violence are supported, both emotionally and financially. Sadly, the UK government is not living up to this duty.
For victims of domestic violence, often the only safe way to claim support for their child or children from the other parent is by using the UK government’s ‘Collect and Pay’ scheme. However, using this scheme to collect support from former partners incurs a 4 per cent collection fee.
It is not acceptable for the UK government to charge for this service, when without it parents may have to go without the support they need to help raise their family. Excluding victims-survivors of domestic abuse from collection charges is the least this government could do, in order to ensure that the support owed to children is paid and that those parents are not distressed further by having to make contact with a former violent partner.
Last week marked the end of the United Nations’ 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence, now the Prime Minister has the opportunity to actually do something. Actions speak louder than words, and by scrapping this collection fee we can send a clear message that we stand behind and fully support victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
Angela Crawley is SNP MP for Lanark and Hamilton East
Read just some of the comments from Third Sector organisations backing Angela Crawley’s campaign.
Emma Ritch Executive Director for Engender said:
“These charges indirectly discriminate against women and especially those who have been subject to domestic abuse – we support this call from Angela Crawley MP and call on the Prime Minister to immediately scrap the charge.”
Marsha Scott, Scottish Women’s Aid said:
“Child maintenance is therefore critical for women’s financial independence, and to ensuring that they are not subject to further abuse that current policy – albeit unwittingly – colludes with. We expect the UK Government to do everything within their power to mitigate this as a matter of urgency.”
Marion Davis, Head of Policy at One Parent Families Scotland, said:
“Single Parents should not have to pay to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), nor should they be charged collection fees if the CMS has to step in because the other parent has failed to pay. This is not putting children first. In particular we feel strongly that victims-survivors of domestic abuse should be exempt from charges to ensure that child support is paid and that parents and children are not traumatised further by having to make contact with a violent ex-partner.”
David Bartlett, White Ribbon Campaign Chief Executive, said:
“The Campaign believes that using the Child Maintenance Service is often the only safe way for victims-survivors of domestic abuse to claim support for their child or children from the other parent. We call on the Government to put in place a waiver for domestic abuse victim-survivors from the ongoing fees for those using the ‘Collect and Pay’ service, which currently amount to 4% of the maintenance due for the receiving parent.”