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Child Maintenance Service replaces CSA with fees

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On the 29th July 2013, a new and improved Child Maintenance Service was put into place. Designed for applicants who have two or more children, this service is gradually replacing the Child Support Agency.

It’s set to provide financial support, as well as calculate financial support, for children who live within a separated family. The CMS is basically a safety net for parents who fail to work things out between themselves.

How the new system will work

There’s some good news for families who are already in the Child Support Agency system. When the CMS took over, all families within the existing system were given a clean slate. Their cases will be gradually closed and help will be given to ensure they come up with their own financial agreements.

The Work and Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, states:

“The Child Maintenance Service is now in its next stages of delivery. It has been progressing well and is easier for caseworkers to use and understand. It’s the first time that HM Revenue & Customs wage data is being used to calculate payments. We’ve learnt from past mistakes with CSA and have decided to roll this new system out gradually.”

The system started out providing help to applicants who had four or more children, but now it is being rolled out to applicants who have two or more children. The aim is that eventually all families will benefit from this new system.

Enforcement fine

One of the main advantages to the CMS is the fact that it will have an enforcement fine option. This is a new feature that will ensure parents pay what they owe – making it a lot harder for parents to get out of their financial responsibilities.

However, there’s also a potential problem for some parents in the form of an upfront fee and small on-going fee. This has been added to ensure that families work together to try to reach their own solutions. On-going collection charges can be stopped if parents agree to a Direct Pay service.

£20 million set to be invested

The government is putting £20 million into providing support to families that have separated. It was found that more than half of the families that were surveyed claimed they could come to their own arrangements with the right support.

The money has so far been invested into mediation projects, online counselling and online support by the top charity “Relate”. Many parents live in difficult to reach areas so this online support is proving to be very helpful.child maintenance

The current CSA system is being faded out over the course of three years, so this should provide plenty of time for families to start working things out between themselves. The £20 application fee will be included once the new service is fully integrated. Around 149,000 children had so far benefitted from the family-based arrangements of the Child Maintenance Options service in July 2012.

If you’re concerned about the changes in the system, organisations such as Citizen’s Advice will be able to help you. There are also numerous support agencies online and offline that you can contact.

 

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About Jemma Porter

About Jemma Porter

Jemma Porter is an experienced content creator who has written for a number of online publications. A self-confessed penny pincher; she's often found seeking out the best personal finance deals.

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