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Further changes to child maintenance system 11/08/2014 The last of a series of radical changes to the child maintenance system was implemented today

Further changes to child maintenance system

The last of a series of radical changes to the child maintenance system was implemented today (11th August 2014), with the start of new support and incentives that should, according to the Government, give families a better chance to take state bureaucracy out of their family arrangements.

The changes also include the launch of a new self-service facility to help separated parents manage their maintenance arrangements and keep track of payments. This facility, based on increasingly popular online banking formats, enables users to make and receive safe and secure payments 24 hours a day, as well as update their details, send enquiries, and see records of letters and phone calls at the click of a mouse.

The move is part of reforms that will see the Child Support Agency (CSA) wound down over the next three years. As it closes its cases, parents are encouraged either to make their own arrangements or take advantage of the government’s Direct Pay system.

Alternatively, families can transfer into a replacement statutory system in which the new Child Maintenance Service will collect and pay maintenance, again with the option of parents tracking progress using the self-service account.

However, in order to enable the new statutory service to concentrate on the most challenging of cases and avoid replicating the out of control bureaucracy which characterised the old system, new ongoing collection charges will apply to discourage its use when parents could instead work together.

Today’s developments follow the introduction of other changes, including the introduction earlier this summer of a one-off £20 application fee to use the Child Maintenance Service and of enforcement charges ranging from £50 to £300 for the small minority of absent parents who try to evade their maintenance responsibilities.

 

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