Changes to child maintenance are to be introduced later in the year, with thousands of single parents in Britain to face fines of up to 24% if unable to make arrangements without the Government’s new Child Maintenance Service. With many Harrington Brooks customers receiving child maintenance, we encourage you to be sure what the changes could mean for you.
Child maintenance provides financial support for the day-to-day living costs of caring for a child. The old system saw single parents using the Child Support Agency (CSA) to make arrangements for maintenance payments. The CSA would collect payments from non-resident parents on behalf of parents with care and, while there was no requirement for separated parents to use the CSA, both parties could apply to the CSA to set a payment level.
It was announced last year that the free CSA service would be replaced. According to a Government spokesman, the old CSA were using an IT system that was “totally inadequate and notoriously riddled with defects”, with running costs of £74 million a year, adding the old system “took responsibility away from parents, encouraging conflict and hostility at huge expense to the taxpayer.”
The Government’s new Child Maintenance Service is designed to encourage amicable, voluntary arrangements between parents. Under the new rules, both parties will pay the fee, up to 24% if a voluntary agreement cannot be made and the service is required.
For example, the paying parent will have a 20% fee added on top of their payment, and the receiving parent paying a 4% fee if the money is paid through the new Government service.
Fiona Weir, Chief Executive of Gingerbread, said:
“While many parents are able to agree private child maintenance arrangements, for many other parents, this just isn’t possible without government help.
“We’re very concerned that closing CSA cases and bringing in charges may deter some parents from making new child maintenance agreements or pressure single parents into unstable arrangements, and children will lose out on vital support.
“Child maintenance can make a big difference to children, so we encourage all parents not to be put off by the charges but to seek help, if they need it, to make arrangements for their children.”
Gingerbread are a national charity who provide advice and practical support for single parents. Gingerbread have a helpline and an online tool explaining the new system and what will happen to existing CSA cases on its website.
If you would like to review your income and expenditure or seek financial advice following any changes in your circumstances, please contact Harrington Brooks’ Customer Services Team on 0844 871 2595 today.