Consultation, The Benefit System, Welfare to Work

– Consultation on changes to Child Maintenance

Government announces response to consultation on future changes to child maintenance

On Monday, 11th July the Government published its response to the consultation on the future of child maintenance. Under the new system:

  • The Government wants to support parents to make their own family-based arrangements which are in the best interests of their children
  • Parents will be able to obtain initial information and support on the range of options available to them through a ‘gateway service’
  • Parents can then decide whether to make their own, family-based arrangements, using the help they have received, or to use the new, much improved, child maintenance service, for which there will be a charge – although it will still be heavily subsidised
  • Parents on the lowest incomes will have a heavily discounted upfront charge to join the service
  • Cases involving domestic violence will be fast-tracked directly onto the statutory service and no payment will be required to enter the system. THIS IS GOOD,
  • Parents who fail to pay their maintenance will be pursued with the full range of enforcement tools available, and will face additional penalty charges to help meet the cost paid by the taxpayer of having to fund any enforcement action against them EXCELLENT

Government figures showed that the current child maintenance system is deeply flawed as, “the CSA currently spends over 40 pence for every pound transferred from the non resident parent to the resident parent – this does not represent value for money to the taxpayer.”

These proposals appear to have been welcomed by groups who wanted the present system totally overhauled. Nick Woodall, Director of Policy and Development at of the Centre for Separated Families, announced in a press release:

“’The Government says that fundamental to its approach is the recognition that families need around separation extend beyond issues of financial support such as child maintenance. We believe that this change is long overdue. For too long, family separation has been dealt with as a purely financial issue”. THIS IS SO TRUE

However, in a an early response to the government plans, the UK’s leading children’s charity Barnardo’s demanded that the coalition abandon any proposals to charge collection fees on families receiving benefits or on low incomes. Anne Marie Carrie, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s said:

“Barnardo’s believes that proposed charges to be levied on parents claiming child maintenance are both unreasonable and unfair. Our services work with families who live on just £13 per person per day. Parents in this situation cannot afford to pay these kind of fees that will inevitably cause undue hardship during a time of difficult family breakdown.

“The Government must make take its mandate to better support families living below the breadline. If the welfare of our children is to be paramount, a system must be created that truly meets the needs of those living in poverty.”


There is an argument to say that parents on low incomes or in receipt of benefits should be treated with the same consideration as those who have suffered domestic violence. There are also concerns that a family in the process of separating and dealing with the adverse effects of the welfare reforms could lead to the family finding it impossible to resolve the situation or successfully part.

David Healey
Project Support

Websites: DWP, Separated Families, Barnardo’s



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