Our David James breaks down the key facts behind the Government’s new child maintenance rules

A NEW incentive has been introduced by the Government for child maintenance which threatens to charge thousands of single parents unless they reach an amicable agreement with their former partners over payments.

Last week, thousands of letters were sent out to single parents in Britain informing them of changes to their child maintenance arrangements.

The Government wants parents to agree their child maintenance agreements amicably or face a charge.

The rationale behind this is that the charges were necessary as the old system was costly for tax payers.

Under the new incentive scheme, non resident parents (usually fathers) pay a 20% fee on their child maintenance payments, with the other parent losing 4% of the money received. This new state administered system will cost £20 to set up with continuing charges on payments.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have stated that parents can avoid the charges by agreeing to pay each other directly, bypassing the state-run system.

Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards a child’s living costs when its parents have separated and is paid to the person who takes care of the child on a day to day basis.

The old system resulted in many single parents using the Child Support Agency (CSA) to resolve maintenance payments although the CSA is being replaced with the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The stated intention is to provide an incentive for parents to reach an agreement although a concern has been expressed by childrens’ charities that the changes could force some parents into unstable arrangements as, although many parents are able to agree private child maintenance arrangements, for other parents this may not be possible without government help.

The charges are set to be introduced later this year.

Published 29/05/14