ABSENT parents in Hartlepool owe almost a quarter of a million pounds in child support in just 12 months.
The Child Support Agency (CSA) has collected over £2.5m in the 12 months to June this year that is supposed to go towards the up-keep of the town’s children whose biological parents live separately.
But Government figures show that there is £240,000 still to be paid up.
Parents not living with their kids in the Durham County Council area, which includes East Durham, have forked out £12.9m to the CSA, but arrears of £1.7m are still to be collected.
Over £5.2m has been raked in by the CSA from absent parents living in the Stockton Borough Council area, which includes mums and dads living in Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard, but £560,000 is still outstanding.
Across the whole of the North-East, £62.5m has been collected from June last year to June this year, with £6.6m arrears.
Work and Pensions Minister Lord Freud said despite the arrears, more parents are contributing towards the upkeep of their youngsters.
From June last year to June this year, 82 per cent of absent parents have paid maintenance, compared to 80 per cent from June 2011 to June last year.
Lord Freud said: “The vast majority of parents in the CSA are now contributing towards the cost of raising their children, and these figures confirm that doing so after separation is the normal thing to do.
“Half of parents in the state system tell us they could work things out between themselves if given support to do so, and our reforms will help them do just that.”
More than four-in-five of the region’s parents, 82 per cent, have contributed to their child’s upbringing after a relationship breakdown.
This equates to 51,040 children benefiting – up 1,600 from the same time last year.
Changes are being made to the child maintenance system to encourage more parents to work things out between themselves.