Chapter 4 The new statutory Child Maintenance Service 18
Chapter 5 Closing the existing statutory schemes 25
Chapter 6 Arrears on a CSA case following the end of liability 27
Chapter 7 The 30 month review 30
Chapter 8 Conclusion 31
Annex A Delivery timeline 32
Annex B Consultation 33
Annex C Seeking views 42
Ministerial foreword This Government believes that strong and stable families are the bedrock of a strong and stable society. That is why almost £6 billion is spent per annum supporting lone parents. Just as parents who live together must take active and on-going responsibility for all aspects of raising their children, so must those who live apart from their children. It is children
who lose out when parents do not live up to their responsibilities.
We believe that the current child maintenance system places too much emphasis on the state determining financial support and not enough on supporting separated and separating families to reach their own arrangements. Research shows that only an estimated one in five
parents makes their own child maintenance arrangements. Despite the Government spending almost half a billion pounds per annum on the child maintenance system, only half of children in separated families benefit from effective maintenance arrangements.
A system, which by default pushes families down an expensive statutory
route, is not good for children, families, or society. It takes responsibility
away from parents and can lead to hostility.
In January 2011, we published a Green Paper on the future of the
child maintenance system laying out our ideas about how the new child maintenance landscape might look; placing a greater emphasis on supporting parents to make their own arrangements; and introducing service charges for the use of the statutory scheme to provide a financial incentive for parents to make their own arrangements.
The Government’s primary aim for child maintenance is to enable the voluntary and community sectors to work with parents to establish a more collaborative culture, providing support from an early stage in helping them to come to their own arrangements on a range of issues that affect their children during and after separation, of which maintenance is just one
Our research shows that just over half of Child Support Agency (CSA)
parents with care surveyed said that with help from a trained impartial
adviser, they could make their own family-based arrangement.
For parents who, despite support, are unable to come to a collaborative agreement, we will provide a new statutory service that will be both faster and more up-to-date than the current CSA schemes.
Our emphasis on early intervention is new whilst our plans to charge parents for using the new statutory service are based on legislation passed in 2008 and Sir David Henshaw’s report , which clearly advocated the importance of charging. We have listened carefully to people’s concerns and our policy reflects the issues raised accordingly, for example by reducing the application fee for the new service and by ensuring we
get the balance of charging right between the parent with care and the
non-resident parent. This is in addition to ensuring applicants who declare that they have been a victim of domestic violence have no application
We recognise that service charging is a tough decision to take, but we
believe that it is necessary in order to provide an incentive for people who
can, to come to their own arrangements, with the wider benefits that these types of arrangements can provide for children.
In addition, service charging will also mean that we will be able to provide
a more targeted statutory service for parents who really do need help in
setting up and enforcing a maintenance arrangement.
This paper sets out the Government’s approach for the future, building upon existing legislation. It also launches a consultation on the details of policy implementation stemming from draft regulations, which will underpin charging, and what will happen to existing cases. It does not consult on the question of charging itself, which has already been consulted on extensively.
It provides the broader context for these changes, including what we are
doing to improve support for separating and separated families. It is radical and tough in parts, but we believe it is necessary if we are to reshape the system to put the wellbeing of children first.