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The new Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which will replace the existing Child Support Agency (CSA), is set come into action from Monday next week, reports have stated.
The new service is expected to affect almost two million families, in which children are being raised by parents who share financial support but do not live together.
In many of these cases, the non-resident parents (NRPs) will also play a part in the day-to-day upbringing of the child.
The scheme is expected to help families come to their own financial arrangements regarding child support by imposing charges on those that resort to government help. For paying parents, this means a charge of 20% on top of the support they owe, whilst for receiving parents, it would mean a 4% deduction fee on the support they receive.
Whilst the scheme has been labelled as somewhat controversial by parents, charities and some authorities, its purpose is to cut costs of Child Support Agency intervention, whilst increasing cooperation and civility between estranged parents.
Liberal Democrat Steve Webb, who is implementing the Child Maintenance Service, said that the outcomes are already enhancing the quality of life for many children. He cites “Little Johnnie is suddenly doing much better in his maths tests” among the anecdotal evidence delivered by parents. Another story involves a mother who once stamped on her daughter’s mobile phone that she used to call her father – that mother is now feeling a lot less stressed.
However, many parents and experts are feeling doubtful about the new service. Social policy expert at single-parent charity Gingerbread Janet Allbeson said:[quote]They see the charges as behaviour modification. This is very much an experiment.
“A lot of people are worried about charging, about having to start all over again.”[/quote]
Regardless of the doubts, the CMS is still expected to have some positive outcomes. One of these is the setup of free online accounts for both paying and receiving parents, which will allow them to see payments due, payments made and other information. It is almost like an online parenting bank account.
Another bonus is that income information of the NRP is picked up automatically from the HMRC, meaning parents will find it more difficult to fudge their finances. The CMS also adds that this means payments can be calculated in a matter of days rather than weeks. The data will also be updated automatically each year.[quote]It sounds like that is going to be quite a useful service,”[/quote]
Ms. Allbeson commented.