A separated dad says he had £6,000 "stolen from his bank account by the government to repay child maintenance arrears he knew nothing about - for his now 31 year old daughter.

Sean Quance, from west Hull says he was "shocked" when £6,006.56 was taken from his savings account earlier this year by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

It was taken on behalf of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), without his permission, in a 'Lump Sum Deduction Order'.

The 56-year-old said he is not only frustrated the DWP can "help themselves" to money, but claims the arrears are not valid because they were accrued from September 2006.

He says this is after his liability for maintenance ended because his youngest daughter left college and got a job.

Mr Quance says the first he knew about any arrears was when he was contacted by his bank earlier this year to say the CMS had "ringfenced" his money.

The Child Maintenance Service withdrew £6,000 from Sean Quance's bank account
The Child Maintenance Service withdrew £6,000 from Sean Quance's bank account

The CMS say they wrote to Mr Quance, who claims he never received the letter due to living abroad for several years while working in IT.

The father-of-three said: "The CMS withdrew £6,000 from my bank account, without my knowledge or consent. It was the funds from a bank loan that I had just taken out for a car.

"They claimed that it was for arrears dating back from 2006 to 2008.

"This was a complete shock to me as the old Child Support Agency (CSA) had closed my case back in 2008, and my daughter is now 31.

"My daughter left college early. I was instructed by the CSA to keep making monthly payments until the end of that educational calendar year, being August 2006, which of course I did.

"As my daughter had already left college, I was therefore no longer liable for any support payments from September 2006 onwards, as she was working and finished with her education.

"I had more than met my financial responsibilities but the CMS have now told me their decision is final.

"I can't appeal, because I didn't inform the CSA at the time that my daughter left college back in 2006, therefore I am still liable for the outstanding amount.

"The alleged arrears from September 2006 to September 2008 were not valid and shouldn’t have ever been charged to my account."

The DWP have a range of powers which it can utilise if the paying parent fails to pay.

Although Mr Quance's case had been closed, in 2019 the case was reviewed as part of a larger reviews process on cases with arrears and his bank accounts were "identified."

Mr Quance has tried to fight his case and says he has provided plenty of evidence to show his liability stopped in 2006.

He added: "After I found out I provided the CMS with bank statements to prove I had fully paid my ex-wife all the money I owed up to the point and beyond of my daughter leaving college.

"I also provided e-mails proving my daughter had left college.

"£6,000 is a lot of money to me and to have the CMS steal my money is an absolute disgrace. They are a law unto themselves."

The organisation has now told Hull Live if Mr Quance can provide "indisputable evidence" that his daughter left college in 2006 that his entire case would be looked at again.

The CMS said he now has the opportunity to retrospectively prove his daughter left college which would mean the arrears would be an "over payment" he was due back.

The CMS replaced the failing Child Support Agency (CSA).

When a parent makes an application to the Child Maintenance Service, they will be told how much child maintenance should be paid.

Some parents will then arrange the payments between themselves: this service is known as Direct Pay. Parents are issued a text message 3 months after they set up a Direct Pay arrangement, and at each annual review, to check that the arrangement is still meeting their requirements.

If parents cannot arrange payments between themselves, or if the paying parent does not keep up with the payments, the receiving parent can ask the Child Maintenance Service to switch the case to the Collect and Pay service.

This service collects and manages payments between the parents, including recovery of unpaid maintenance that built up under the Direct Pay service.

This could involve the use of enforcement powers. To use the Collect and Pay service, paying parents are charged 20% of their child maintenance, and receiving parents 4%. This is intended to encourage parents to collaborate.

Mr Quance is adamant he has given proper evidence to the CMS, but is now going to write to the to provide all the evidence "again" - in the hope the "invalid" arrears will be refunded.

He said he respects the CMS for chasing parents who do not pay child maintenance.

But he insists he paid properly for many years and believes it is wrong the organisation has the power to "steal" the money.

He added: "I totally understand that there are some fathers who don't pay and for that I salute the CMS for hunting them down, but they shouldn't penalise the good fathers who never miss a single payment.

"I just thought other people should know how much of a horror show it is dealing with the CMS,

"They just don't listen and seem to be covering up for mistakes they or the CSA made in the past and don't want to or can't admit to it.

"It has been a frustrating fight and to have the government blatantly steal money from me has totally crushed me. I would like to start legal proceedings.

"I firmly believe there has been a serious injustice done here and more people should hear about this."

What the DWP say

A spokesman for the DWP said it invited Mr Quance to provide evidence his daughter left college in 2006, with many letters sent before the money was taken.

The spokesman said: "Mr Quance was fully aware that the money owed, in respect of his daughter, would be taken from his bank account if he failed to repay the amount due or agree a repayment plan.

"Mr Quance did not provide evidence to support his allegation that the daughter had left school, or supply details of all of the payments he said he had made."