Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Child maintenance reform: A question

I said in my last post that I wouldn't comment on the proposals to reform child support. However, there is one question that I would pose, and it's an obvious one: If parents have to pay for the service then they will expect a return, i.e. a successful calculation and collection of child maintenance. In the light of the horrendous record of previous failures of the child support/maintenance system, what assurance can be given that parents will not be wasting their money?

I'll not answer the question, save to say that the Green Paper promises a new child maintenance scheme which "is being designed to deliver meaningful and obvious improvements", at the heart of which will be "a new fully functional computer system" (my italics!). There is little detail of the new scheme (regulations should be drafted this year covering the calculation of child maintenance under the new scheme - presumably, this will be a different method of calculation from that set out in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008), save that cases will be reviewed annually (at last), and CMEC will be able to access the tax system to obtain details of the income of the NRP, something that has been mooted ever since the idea of child support was first raised. The DWP says that charging will not be introduced for the first six months of the new scheme, to "ensure we can make the case to clients that the new scheme is working well and provides a better service".

Only time will tell whether the new scheme will work well enough to satisfy paying customers, but it's going to be a tall order...

2 comments:

  1. It is time the government scrapped the CSA and put the matter back to the courts. Then the courts could make different awards for child support based on if you were married or not in order to boost the number of marriages. Kill two birds with one stone, Bob's your Uncle!

    Sadly, there are too many vested interests at stake here perhaps. Including, but not limited to the Feminist Lobbyists, The DWP, the IT supplier / contract - probably EDS, Cafcass, Barnardos, etc.

    In answer to your question, no, I don't think so. I think it is meant more as a punitive measure to try and stop people from using them and to make a profit, rather than lose money if they do. Apparently there was some research that showed the CSA do nothing to reduce child povity and lone parent families, but has made the situation worse. Indeed I have read that in The Sun, so it must be true. For example, if you set it at £1000 each, people won't use it but will do their own deals.

    Personally I think the whole thing's a failed experiment (like the USSR) and needs to go back to the Courts ASAP. And mine's a pint please.

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  2. :-) (Particularly liked the bit about The Sun!)

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