THE END OF THE CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY
The work and Pensions Minister, John Hutton announced, on Monday 24th July 2006 that the Child Support Agency is to be scrapped and replaced with a tougher, more streamlined body.
WHEN WILL THE NEW AGENCY BE UP AND RUNNING?
The Government will be producing a White Paper with final, detailed proposals in autumn 2006, and hopes that some of the new measures will be legislated by 2008.
WHAT WILL THE NEW CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY BE LIKE?
Both the old scheme, and the new scheme will be closed down and everyone will have to make an application to the new body.
It will be simpler and concentrate on encouraging parents to make their own arrangements and will have tougher enforcement penalties for non-payers.
HOW WILL THE NEW CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY BE DIFFERENT?
Encouragement to make own arrangements –
- Parents with care who are on benefits will no longer be obliged to make an application via the agency. Over the past 3 years 70% of all applications made to the Child Support Agency were made by parents with care on benefits.
- Parents with care who are on benefits will be able to keep substantially more of the child maintenance they receive without it affecting their entitlement to benefits. This will remove a disincentive on the part of the parent with care to bother seeking child maintenance from the absent parent.
- Non resident parents who do not agree to make their own arrangements will be charged a fee if the parent with care makes an application.
- The facility to refer child maintenance agreed in Consent Orders to the Child Support Agency, after the Consent Order has been in existence for 12 months, may be removed.
New enforcement measures under consideration –
- Withdrawal of passports
- Use of curfews
- Name and shame
CHILD MAINTENANCE PAYMENTS
The current system will continue for the time being, with those on the old formula remaining on it and new applications still being processed by the Child Support Agency on the formula introduced in 2003.