Absent parents who refuse to contribute towards their children’s care face being ‘banned’ from taking foreign holidays.
Ministers are later this month poised to press ahead with plans to remove the passports of so-called ‘deadbeat dads’ who flout their responsibilities.
The radical move is seen as a key weapon in ‘persuading’ absent fathers or mothers to pay up and meet the costs of their children.
Government sources last night insisted that a final decision had yet to be made.
But The Mail on Sunday understands an official consultation earlier this year threw up no major obstacles to the passport plan.
And last week, Kit Malthouse, the Child Maintenance Minister, suggested it could be an effective measure as the Government seeks to claw back billions of pounds of unpaid child support.
He said: ‘Denying someone a passport means that they just can’t go on holiday and we think that’s the sort of power that might change people’s minds about whether to fulfil their obligations.’
Mr Malthouse contrasted the new plan with existing powers to remove non-paying parents’ driving licences, introduced under a previous crackdown.
He told the BBC: ‘We do already have the power to take driving licences. But unfortunately that impacts somebody’s ability to work very often and of course, we’d like them to work so they can pay the maintenance.’
More than £2.5 billion is currently owed in unpaid child maintenance – with nearly all of the debt incurred under the discredited and now disbanded Child Support Agency.
An analysis last year showed it would cost the Government £1.5 billion to collect unpaid old CSA debt, most of which is owed on cases where the children are now adults.