The Department for Work and Pensions recently published a report which gives an interesting insight into the workload of the Child Maintenance Service during the first quarter of 2018. 

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) was introduced in December 2012 as part of the Government’s Child Maintenance Reforms. It replaced the Child Support Agency (CSA) and is for separated parents who can’t arrange child maintenance between themselves.

The Government very much encourages separated parents to reach agreement on their child maintenance arrangements themselves, which is known as a ‘family-based arrangement’. It sees the CMS as a backstop for families who are not able to reach this private arrangement.

The CMS can calculate the amount of maintenance to be paid and parents can arrange the payments between themselves, using the Direct Pay system. If parents cannot do this or they don’t pay what was agreed, then the Child Maintenance Service can collect and manage the payments between the parents through the Collect & Pay service.

The latest figures show that between January and March 2018, 31,800 applications were made to the CMS, of which 31,300 were successful.

At the end of March 2018, 69% of Paying Parents were using Direct Pay and 33% the Collect & Pay Service. 3% of Paying Parents were using both services.

The figures also show that since the CMS began there is a total of £197.8m unpaid child maintenance which should have been paid through the Collect & Pay service, which equates to 12% of all child maintenance due to have been paid since the service began (£1637.6m).

The CMS has a number of enforcement options available to collect unpaid child maintenance:

  • Take money from the Paying Parent’s earnings through a deduction from earnings order/request.
  • Money can be taken directly from the Paying Parent’s bank or building society account by using a deduction order.
  • A Paying Parent can be taken to court over unpaid child maintenance. The courts can grant liability orders which allow the parent to be referred to

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.