More than two in five Leeds parents fail to pay compulsory child support
Charity Gingerbread, which supports single parent families, says children who could be lifted out of poverty by the financial help are being failed.
And it says the figures are likely to rocket as the Department for Work and Pensions, overstretched by the pandemic, is not chasing up owed cash.
A separated parent can be forced to provide child maintenance if they cannot arrange payments with their former partner.
But DWP data shows parents in Leeds failed to pay into such schemes on 1,110 occasions between January and March.
That was 43 per cent of such arrangements – just below the average of 44 per cent across Great Britain.
The figures include “arrears only cases” for which no ongoing child maintenance was due in the three months.
Joe Richardson, research and policy officer at Gingerbread, said the national figure is “evidence of a government service continuing to fail the children it is supposed to protect”.
He said: “Research has shown that for those who are owed maintenance and are living in poverty, being paid the child maintenance they are due would lift around 60% of them out of the poverty trap. Child poverty is unacceptable in any circumstances, but even more so when a government department has the powers to prevent it.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We have introduced tough child maintenance powers to help ensure children receive the financial support they deserve.”
The DWP added it had redeployed staff to the “front line” to deal with demand for Universal Credit.