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New system of child maintenance being introduced – old system of CSA to run alongside for the time being

Date: (28 February 2013)    |    

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The Child Support Agency (CSA) which was the sole body entrusted to deal with the collection of maintenance payments for children whose parents had taken divorce, is being replaced by the new Child Maintenance Service.
With prohibitive costs involved in a divorce proceeding getting complicated when there is a disagreement on sharing of family finances gets further complicated when children are involved.
When there was a disagreement in the past between the parties child support agencies took the mantle of collecting maintenance on behalf of the children affected. But it was criticised for its bad management and ineffectiveness leading to loss of public faith.
It was found to be adding to the misery of people who had gone through a tormenting separation by delays and committing errors. Though the error rates were claimed to be on the lower side by the agency blaming it on the automation systems a report of Whitehall spending watchdog found that there was actually about £25 million worth of financial errors, which was by no means a small sum!
Other complaints against the agency were regarding the fast check by it in the claims of fathers in their income declaration and their actual income which almost went unchallenged. Such figures were taken at their face value which left many single mothers seriously prejudiced in financial matters.
Now the government has decided to replace the current system with new statutory scheme for arranging the payment of child maintenance though the old Child Support Agency is going to work alongside the new service at least for the time being.
Administration of benefits is taken care by the Department of Work and Pensions is going to run the new system and is expected to reinstate public confidence in the system and while the current system will run along side with the new system for three years initially the Child Support Agency would work to close its pending cases it currently manages while letting the new system to gradually take over its operations.
The government has given assurances that the new system would work significantly better than the past system, as an example it promised that the method of calculating maintenance would be simplified and it would use gross income figures provided by HM Revenue & Customs, rather than relying on those provided by individuals involved.
The current system initially would be applicable to those who have four or more children and the children should have the same two parents and also the family must have had no previous involvement with the Child Support Agency. This means only new applicants would enjoy the benefits from the new scheme in the start while all applicants will have to apply to the CSA in the normal way with only some cases being sent to the CMS. Being early stages of the scheme it plans to get everybody applying for maintenance to have access to its services regardless of their circumstances.
But there is a catch to it that as usual applicants will be charged a fee to apply for maintenance and they will have to attend an interview to show that they have used other avenues of arranging maintenance before being accepted. But if a prospective applicant is already claiming any benefits this fee will be reduced and if the marriage has broken down as a result of domestic violence no fee has to be paid.

 

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Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: on 13 July 2011 at 15:57

Its a shame you have lost the Clapham office as it was so spacious and close to the overground station. However thank you for not disappearing from the area altogether!! Now you are in Tooting it just as convenient and its still a stones throw away from the tube station. The child care and family team there are all helpful and always smiling. The lift access is not ideal, but if you do follow the lift instructions then it will take you straight up to the Duncan Lewis reception.