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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Child Maintenance Arrangements

The Government has unveiled its plans for a revised child maintenance system in Great Britain. Ministers believe the current system is ineffective, and want to refocus it on supporting families to make their own arrangements which are in the best interests of the children involved.

To do this, £20m is being invested to provide a network of support services, capable of reaching out to help separated families, wherever they are, whatever their background, online, on the phone, and in person.

The policy document; 'Supporting Separated Families; Securing Children’s Futures' sets out key improvements including:

...

The Scottish Government is consulting on a new draft Bill, designed to make it easier for parents to access work, education or training. The Children and Young People Bill will help parents structure their childcare to best suit their family’s needs.

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The Government has laid an order in Parliament to bring the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) back under direct Ministerial control.

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:

“The Government is clear about how important strong family relationships are for children. All children have the right to financial support from both parents, which is why we are reforming the child maintenance service to put children at its heart.

“Bringing the system under direct control of Ministers will help that process."

This matter will be debated in both Houses of Parliament, and assuming it receives Parliamentary approval, CMEC will be abolished, and its current operational units will become a business unit of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, the change is proposed to be made on 31st July 2012.

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Plans by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission to reduce its spending are high risk, according to the National Audit Office.

There is already a £44 million shortfall in the £161 million reduction originally expected by 2014-15. The Commission is reliant on raising £71 million in fee income from parents as part of its planned savings. These estimates are very uncertain, increasing the risk that additional cuts might be needed late on in the Spending Review that could have an adverse effect on services.

According to the National Audit Office, the existing child maintenance schemes were problematic from the start and large backlogs of work built up. Efficiency has improved since 2006 and the cost of administering child maintenance has reduced. There are strong indications that costs remain high. Comparisons with Australia are difficult, but the fact that the Commission spends approximately 56 pence for each £1 it collects for parents, while Australia spent 35 pence raises questions about the relative efficiency of the Commission.

It is the opinion of the National Audit office that the Commission’s plans to reduce costs are high risk and not sufficiently developed to secure the savings needed. The Commission needs to consider alternative options for restructuring and introduce measures to improve productivity.

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