The failed Child Support Agency (CSA) is being wound down, and no longer accepts new assessments for child maintenance. Work formerly undertaken by the CSA is now done by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) but they are urging separated parents to enter into 'voluntary' arrangements if at all possible.
There is also a controversial new fees & charges regime operated by the CMS and that this can have serious financial impacts on those who pay maintenance, and also those parents who receive it. This new regime will apply to existing CSA users as and when their own case is transferred to the CMS - this is due to happen by 2017 at the latest.
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “Hundreds of thousands of parents will now face case closure and charges over the next few years.
“We are very concerned about the impact on children, for whom child maintenance is vital. The charges will bring added financial burdens to many single parent families who are already struggling, and pressure others into unstable private arrangements.”
Gingerbread is also worried that the case closure process, application fee and ongoing charges will discourage some parents from securing maintenance for their children. The government’s own predictions are that 100,000 CSA parents, currently due child maintenance, will simply give up and make no arrangements when their CSA case is closed .
DWP figures also show that one third (33%) of applicants to the CSA had a previous private arrangement that had failed. Almost two-thirds (59%) either had no contact with the other parent or were not at all friendly, posing real challenges in being able to agree maintenance arrangements .
Further information - and basic calculations - can be obtained via cmoptions.org or by calling the CMS on 0800 988 0988.