‘Coronavirus has been the perfect excuse for him to just stop paying’: child maintenance and economic abuse in the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak

Author: Kathryn Royal1
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  • 1 Surviving Economic Abuse and University of Durham, , UK
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In June 2020, Surviving Economic Abuse launched The Cost of COVID-19 research, comprising a survey and semi-structured interviews with victim-survivors of economic abuse. A self-selecting sample of 360 victim-survivors completed the survey, and a total of 62 interviews were held. The research explored a number of topics, including victim-survivors’ access to child maintenance payments during the pandemic. The research found that perpetrators of economic abuse have been able to use the pandemic and the measures introduced to control its spread to economically abused victim-survivors, including by interfering with child maintenance payments.

Of female victim-survivors eligible for child maintenance payments and who participated in the research, 84 per cent were worried about current access to their payments. Twenty-two per cent reported that the perpetrator had stopped paying child maintenance during the pandemic and 18 per cent reported that they had paid unreliably. This left women unable to rely on payments and struggling to afford essentials for themselves and their children, including food. Women described difficulty in contacting the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), while perpetrators stopped or reduced payments without providing evidence for a change in circumstances. Urgent changes to the CMS are required to ensure that victim-survivors of economic abuse can access child maintenance payments reliably.

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  • 1 Surviving Economic Abuse and University of Durham, , UK

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