I'm sorry, you can throw as much money as you like at helping families agree child maintenance arrangements, but that will have no effect whatsoever upon the real problem with child maintenance: the absent parents who refuse to pay. All the new system is doing is penalising the parent with care by charging them to use a service that was previously free, with no improved likelihood of the CSA actually recovering anything from recalcitrant parents.
Still, the most important thing with any government is spin, and the headline '£20 million to help separating families' looks good.
Meanwhile, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has today released the latest CSA performance statistics, for the quarter ending December 2011. Key facts revealed by the statistics include:
- The percentage of cases with a child maintenance liability in which maintenance is being paid rose from 77.8% as at September 2011 to 78.0%.
- 882,600 children were benefiting from maintenance, up from 876,100 in September.
- £1,180.1m maintenance was collected or arranged in the 12 months to December 2011 of which £121.1m was arrears. This is up from £1,168.7m in the 12 months to September 2011 of which £122.1m was arrears.
- 89.4% of cases received in September 2011 were cleared within 12 weeks, which was actually slightly down from the 89.7% figure for cases received in June 2011.