The Work & Pensions Committee have launched an inquiry into Child Maintenance.
On 13 January 2011 the Department for Work and Pensions published a Green Paper, Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance. This consultation paper sought views on the Government’s strategy for reforming the child maintenance system.
Under the current system, separating parents can agree child maintenance costs themselves under a private agreement. Parents or persons with care of a child can also ask the Child Support Agency (CSA) to calculate the child maintenance costs and set up a payment arrangement. The Green Paper set out the Government’s view that parents should be encouraged and supported to make their own arrangements for the maintenance of their children, before deciding to use the statutory maintenance scheme.
The proposals include introducing charges for parents who use the statutory child maintenance service.
The Work and Pensions Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into the proposed reform of the child maintenance system. In particular, it will focus on the following:
- whether the reforms are likely to achieve the Government’s goals of better outcomes for children; delivering a more efficient administrative child maintenance service; and providing value for money for the taxpayer;
the likely impact on parents of the introduction of charges, particularly poorer or more vulnerable families;
- the likely level of compliance for child maintenance payments agreed through mediation rather than through statutory support;
- the likely effectiveness of the mechanisms which will be put in place for the collection and transfer of child maintenance payments;
- the extent to which mediation and advisory services in local communities will be equipped to support separating parents in coming to agreements on child maintenance;
- the operation of the ‘gateway’, which will require parents to consider a range of options for the agreement and collection of child maintenance before they are able to apply for statutory support;
- the scale of the challenge involved in moving existing CSA cases to a new scheme and the likely impact of introducing another new computer system.
The inquiry will also provide an opportunity to follow-up recommendations made by the Work and Pensions Committee in the last Parliament in its 2010 Report on child support.
Short submissions (no more than 3,000 words) are invited from interested organisations and individuals.
The deadline for written evidence was 28 April 2011.