Charity calls new child maintenance charges ‘wrong in principle’

Divorce|June 30th 2014

Single parent charity Gingerbread has labelled new child maintenance collection charges ‘wrong in principle’.

From today, new applicants to CSA successor the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will need to pay an application fee of £20. Only victims of domestic violence will be exempt from this charge. The CMS will also begin the closure of all CSA cases from today, a process expected to take four years in total.

Collection charges for parents unable to reach agreement between themselves will also become payable from August 11. Fees of 20 per cent will be charged to the paying parent, along four per cent to the collecting ‘parent with care’, under the CMS ‘Collect and Pay’ statutory scheme.

Parents who make a ‘Direct Pay’ voluntary arrangement will be exempt from the fees. The government expects its total income from collection fees to reach £980 million over the next nine years. It also expects the number of people using the statutory service to drop by one quarter of a million over the next five years and an additional fall of around 15,000 per year in new applications due to the administration fee. As many as 10,000 of the people dissuaded from applying by the administration fee may not make other arrangements.

Fiona Weir is Chief Executive of Gingerbread. She said many single parents would struggle to make their own maintenance arrangements and claimed the government had a “blinkered focus” on voluntary maintenance agreements.

She declared:

“Most single parent families are struggling financially at the moment and the £20 application fee to use the new Child Maintenance Service will be very difficult in practice for some to afford. It is simply wrong in principle for the government to deduct money intended for children if the new service has to step in and collect from a parent who has failed to pay.”

Nevertheless, parents should make every effort to reach their own arrangements, she added, to maximise the financial support available to their children.

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  1. Yvie says:

    By single parent families, I am presuming Fiona Weir means single mothers. She may not be aware, but many fathers who have managed to obtain a shared residence of their children, often for almost 50% of the time, can also be single parents. They can find themselves in the dubious position of supporting their children for almost 50% without any state help whatsoever, not even working tax family credit, and also paying as much as 25% of their income to support their children again, when they are with their mother. Not a word about charges which can be equally punitive for this group of single parents, does Ms Weir utter. I would have a little more respect for Gingerbread if they included both mothers and fathers in their endeavours.

  2. Skeptic says:

    Good points yvie. But you won’t find any common sense or fairness in any of these groups, not CSA, not gingerbread, not the government. Gingerbread is the most sexist charity. And when they get the government to do something, they complain and lobby for more changes that hurt children.

    The last sentence of the above article is very peculiar. The support for children is not maximised by stealing one parents livelihood and giving it to the other. I think you mean ‘compromised’.

  3. The stigma of relationship breakdown by John Bolch - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] Monday anyone using the Child Maintenance Service must pay a fee for the privilege. This is just the latest example of the government penalising those whose […]

  4. David Burnard says:

    When did the transfer process get extended by yet another year, draft regulations state transfers are to be completed by 31 Dec 2017. Having Been stuck on CSA1 for over 11 years (paying almost double) , then being shoved from the front of the transfer queue, to the middle, after the sham of a consultation before finalising the regulations, yet another of delays is (as ever) a horrific prospect.

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