Crown Copyright 2012


Annex B Consultation



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Annex B

Consultation

  1. The consultation consists of ten questions around the introduction of charging, and the case closure plans. It does not consult on the question of charging itself, which has already been consulted on extensively.


  2. The draft regulations can be found in full at: www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/childrens-futures.shtml


Draft Child Support Fees Regulations


  1. The draft Child Support Fees Regulations 2013 make provision for
    the Secretary of State to charge clients for the provision of the Child
    Maintenance Service.


  2. Within the regulations are provisions for an application fee, collection
    fees and enforcement charges.

The application fee


  1. There will be an upfront application fee of £20 for applicants to the statutory child maintenance scheme. We will waive the fee for applicants who declare that they have been a victim of domestic violence and for applicants who are aged 18 and under.


  2. The application is for access to the service and does not guarantee a result.


  3. The regulations provide for the repayment of an application fee where a qualifying child dies after the payment of the fee but before a calculation
    has been made.


  4. Applicants who are required to pay the application fee will have to pay in
    full at the time of making an application for child support maintenance.
    We will take no action on the case until this payment has been made.

The domestic violence exemption


  1. The Gateway and the application fee are expected to act as encouragement for both parents to collaborate and remain outside of the statutory service. We do not believe such an incentive is appropriate where the applicant’s relationship with the former partner has been abusive.


  2. A parent who identifies themselves as being a victim of domestic violence, and has satisfied the self-declaration process outlined below, will be fast tracked through the Gateway conversation.



  1. We will not charge an application fee where the applicant declares that they have previously reported an incident of domestic violence to one of the following individuals or agencies:

  • a court;

  • the police;

  • a medical professional;

  • social services;

  • a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC);

  • a specialist domestic violence organisation or service including
    a refuge;

  • an employer; or

  • educational services.

  1. This exemption will remove what could otherwise be a practical barrier for parents fleeing a violent situation, such as having lost access to a joint bank account or otherwise finding themselves in particularly stressful financial circumstances.


  2. For the purposes of the exemption, we have aligned the definition of
    domestic violence with the Home Office definition:

    ‘Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’


  3. This definition was recently the subject of a Home Office consultation and
    we will remain aligned with any future published post-consultation updated definition.


  4. The exemption from the application fee is intended to be a means of immediately removing what might otherwise be a barrier to a person who needs help accessing the statutory service. We would like to limit the burden of proof required for the victims so we are proposing that this applies only to the application fee. Full support will be given to domestic violence victims to ensure that they are able to move out of the charging regime and on to Direct Pay without any contact whatsoever with their former partners




  1. The Government will ensure information is available that enables the direct transfer of maintenance between parents, without the need to make any contact or to divulge any personal information. We will provide support around the use of this service to ensure that victims of domestic violence can also use Direct Pay safely and securely, with no ongoing fees for
    either party.



  2. It would be wrong for the domestic violence exemption to be so rigorous
    as to act as a barrier to people seeking immediate support. However, all
    the declaration establishes is that the applicant has previously reported an incidence of domestic violence to one of the named agencies. It does not attempt to establish whether an offence has indeed taken place, or whether
    a named party is guilty of an offence – this is the role of the courts following investigation by the police.


  3. We will offer applicants who identify themselves as a victim of domestic violence a referral to either an appropriate voluntary sector support service
    for advice or to the appropriate police service so that the incident can be properly investigated.





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