MORAY RESIDENTS ARE being encouraged to sign a petition calling on the UK Government to end the imposition of a tax on victims of domestic abuse.
Moray MP Angus Robertson is behind the call, highlighting the petition that seeks the removal of a 4% collection charge on child maintenance payments that applies to parents using the ‘Collect and Pay’ service.
Such payments are managed by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) – and can be removed directly from the bank account of the paying parent. The ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service has enforcement powers available to ensure maintenance is paid on time and in full.
While the CMS exempt victims of domestic violence from the £20 application fee they do not make any exemptions from the monthly charges. Parliamentary questions have revealed that the charges are in place to encourage parents to pause and consider whether they require the ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service – encouraging parents to utilise the less bureaucratic ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme.
However, Mr Robertson has stressed that the ‘Direct-Pay’ service does not offer the same protections as ‘Collect-and-Pay’ and can continue the cycle of control and abuse.
He said: “It is a disturbing fact the most common violent crime in Moray is a result of domestic abuse.
“A great deal is being done by organisations like Moray Women’s Aid, Police Scotland and many others to tackle domestic abuse but we also need the UK Government to consider the impact of other policies such as the collection charge on child maintenance payments.
“Victims of domestic abuse should be protected by the UK government, not punished financially for not engaging with their abusive ex-partner. The ‘Collect-and-Pay’ service helps parents who have left an abusive relationship by anonymising payments but that is undermined when there is a 4% charge associated with it.
“The UK government advises victims of domestic abuse that they should utilise the less safe ‘Direct-Pay’ scheme, which has no powers of enforcement and allows continued communication through bank transfers.”
The MP added that financial control over their victim is a common form of abuse – adding that this policy enable that abuse to continue.
He said: “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.
“The UK Government must look again at this unfair tax and listen to the cross-party calls to scrap it – ultimately, it will be the children that child maintenance payments are intended to support who will lose out.”
The campaign to have the policy changed has the support of One Parent Family Scotland, the White Ribbon Campaign and Scottish Women’s Aid, who have all welcomed the petition.