Duncan Lewis

Family Law

know matters can be both

highly sensitive and confusing

A new child maintenance plan has been unveiled by the government

Date: (16 July 2012)    |    

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The new plans for child maintenance system in Great Britain have been unveiled by the Government. The regulations would strengthen the details which are set out in the Command Paper, along with the Impact Assessment and Equality Impact Assessment would be published on the 19 July 2012 and the consultation period would run from that day until the 26th October 2012.
Ministers believe the current system, costing £0.5bn a year, focusing purely on collecting and transferring money had proved inefficient and has damaged separated families.
Network support services with an investment of £20m are being set up which would be capable of reaching out to help separated families wherever they were with whatever background, online, on the phone and in person.
The policy document; Supporting Separated Families; Securing Children's Futures sets out key improvements including better co-ordination of existing support services and building an evidence base, providing with a new service besides the existing helplines, for parents to work together whenever possible and a specially developed web application to provide online information and support. Local support Funding for regional coordination and training to help join up support services and the wider community on the ground. And an innovation Fund for pioneering new services for separating parents which has been already announced in June.
The overall purpose was to help the experts in the field who work with families day-in and day-out.
Extra support to help parents who would like to make their own maintenance arrangements would also be provided by a gateway service; for the first time, all parents considering applying for child maintenance payments via the state will be invited to discuss their situation and consider possible alternatives. Where appropriate, it will direct them to community-based support services.
The new statutory maintenance scheme, to be known as the Child Maintenance Service, will take cases where parents are not able to make their own arrangements. It is proposed, as well as a £20 application fee, the parent paying maintenance will pay an additional collection fee of 20% on top of each assessed payment. The parent receiving maintenance will have 7% deducted from each assessed payment.
But parents who fail to pay will face additional penalty charges reflecting the cost of enforcement action. For example, it is proposed that a Liability Order from the courts will carry a £300 surcharge, while £200 will be charged if money has to be removed from their bank account via a lump sum Deduction Order.
The collection fees could be avoided by both parents if the paying parent opts to pay the other directly without use of the collection service. The new Child Maintenance Service will continue to be heavily subsidised but will be faster and fairer, better for parents and taxpayer.
Payments will usually be based on the paying parent's latest tax-year gross income, reported by HM Revenue & Customs. Use of tax data means assessments will depend less on what parents choose to disclose about their income.
Maintenance calculations will be reviewed annually to ensure they remain fair accurate and up to date. The Child Support Agency currently costs almost £0.5 billion per annum on top of the £6bn the Government already pays out in income-related support for lone parents.