NEARLY half of Blackburn with Darwen parents are failing to pay compulsory child support to their ex-partner, new figures reveal.

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 a Department for Work and Pensions overstretched by the pandemic is not chasing up cash owed.

A separated parent can be forced to provide child maintenance through a Collect and Pay service if they cannot arrange payments with their former partner.

But DWP data shows parents in Blackburn with Darwen failed to pay into such schemes on 257 occasions between January and March.

That was 46% of Collect and Pay arrangements – slightly above the average of 44% across Great Britain over the period.

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 was “evidence of a government service continuing to fail the children it is supposed to protect”.

He said: “We expect the next set of figures to show that arrears have skyrocketed."