The government has published a full response to last year’s consultation on child support regulations.
Supporting separated families; securing children’s futures, published in July 2012, outlined changes to the payment of child support in England and Wales, and the transfer of existing Child Support Agency cases to the new Child Maintenance Service.
Parents will be encouraged to make voluntary ‘family-based arrangements’ with their former partners, but those who cannot be will charged a fee for use of an obligatory collection service – both the parent owing money and the recipient will have to pay the fee.
The consultation ended in October and attracted 90 responses. Minister of State for Pensions Steve Webb gave a preliminary response to the findings in May and this has now been followed up by the government’s official report.
In a written statement, the Minister set out the government’s decisions:
“… we have reduced the proposed parent with care collection fee from seven per cent to four per cent. Secondly, we have extended the list of organisations to which domestic violence can be reported in order to qualify for the …fee waiver. We have updated our definition of domestic violence to keep it in line with the current cross-Government definition, which includes financial abuse. ”
Existing Child Support Agency cases for which no maintenance is currently due will be transferred to the Child Maintenance Service first, he continued.
“We estimate that around 50,000 cases could move from being nil-assessed to being positively assessed, should a new application be made to the Child Maintenance Service. “
Cases in which maintenance payments have been subject to enforcement will be closed and transferred last.
Single parent charity Gingerbread said it was “strongly opposed” to the plans.
“The government says the 4% collection charge for single parent families, as well as a 20% charge for the paying parent if they won’t pay voluntarily, will act as an incentive to both parents to collaborate and arrange maintenance payments between themselves. However, the 4% charge will only be applied in cases where the Child Maintenance Service itself decides that the non-resident parent is unlikely to pay maintenance, and collection is needed. Gingerbread argues that this means single parent families will be punished for the other parent’s failure to pay.”