Closing the existing statutory schemes Many clients are involved with the Child Support Agency (CSA) only because the parent with care was compelled to use it because they were in receipt of state benefits. Inertia, or lack of knowledge about the alternatives, has meant that some of these clients stayed in the CSA, when they may have been able to make a family-based arrangement with the right support.
As part of this reform programme, we will offer all CSA clients the opportunity to think again, with proper support, about whether a family-based arrangement might actually be best for them and their children.
We indend to do this by closing all existing CSA cases, which will involve ending the ongoing liability to pay maintenance on all existing child support cases on the 1993 and 2003 statutory maintenance schemes. By the end of the case closure process, which is expected to take around three years from 2014, all cases will be managed on a single set of calculation rules and on one computer system.
Parents will, with the support from Child Maintenance Options and the wider co-ordinated support services, be able to choose a family-based arrangement. Parents who are unable to reach a family-based arrangement will be able to apply to the new statutory Child Maintenance Service.
Parents will not be able to simply ‘remain where they are’ and retain a case
on the 1993 or 2003 schemes, as those schemes will no longer exist once
the process of case closure has been completed.
As there are over 1 million existing CSA cases, we will manage the case closure process in stages, over a three-year period. Clients involved in
around 900,000 of these cases will be told that their existing case will close. Around 100,000 cases are expected to close naturally during the case closure period due to the age of the youngest child and therefore will not be included in the process. We estimate that around 570,000 (63 per cent) will apply to the new scheme.
We expect a significant proportion of the remainder to enter into family-based arrangements.
We will not begin this process until we have launched the new statutory service and it has been operating well. However, we will need to move a
small number of cases onto the new service ahead of this, specifically
where a non-resident parent with a case in the current schemes is involved
in an application to the new scheme (known as ‘reactive transition’).
This will mean that for a significant period, until we close all existing cases,
we will be managing cases on three different statutory schemes: the 1993, 2003, and 2012 schemes.
Both the early movement of cases to the Child Maintenance Service (‘reactive transition’), and the managed process for closing existing cases described above are designed to ensure that the non-resident parent is only assessed under one set of calculation rules for any cases they are involved in. However, there are some key issues to be aware of, explained in more detail below.
The approach when an existing CSA case closes but the parents choose to make an application to the new Child Maintenance scheme is that details
from clients will be gathered afresh and entered into the new computer system. However arrears accumulated on the existing CSA schemes will remain outstanding and due unless the parent with care tells us they do not want any arrears owed to them collected.
Further information on case closure, including the proposed order in which cases will be closed, is available in Annex B.