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Government urged to reconsider child maintenance reforms

Results from a recent survey have revealed that 46% of single parents currently using the Child Support Agency (CSA) to access child maintenance payments could not afford to pay the fees proposed to access the new child maintenance service.


The survey, by single parent charity Gingerbread, also revealed that 72% of families who said they couldn't afford the fees also said that they could not set up private arrangements with their ex-partners - meaning their children would simply have to go without maintenance support.


The CSA operates as part of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) and will gradually be wound down, starting in 2012. All existing CSA clients will, over a phased two year period starting in 2013, be given a choice whether or not to use the new statutory system run by CMEC. 


If they want to use it, they will be charged an upfront application fee of £100 (or £50 if they claim benefit, with £20 due straight away and the rest in instalments). There will also be an extra ongoing charge of between 7% and 12% of the money paid for children where payments are collected and enforced by CMEC.


Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:


“If the Government’s child maintenance proposals go ahead, we could see thousands of parents on low incomes stranded between a rock and a hard place, unable to pay fees and unable to make private arrangements.


“The current proposals must be urgently reconsidered as the last thing that vulnerable families need are further barriers preventing them from getting the financial support that their children deserve”.


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