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Massive reform of child maintenance picks up pace

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has now closed its doors to new applicants as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) takes over all new child maintenance cases for the first time.

Single parent charity Gingerbread has commented that this is the start of the countdown to the closure of all existing CSA cases and government plans to start charging parents who want to use the new service.

The CMS will be dramatically increasing its caseload and testing its new systems, before taking on up to a million former CSA cases.

However, the child maintenance overhaul will also see the introduction of charges for both parents if the paying parent refuses to pay, arrangements break down and single parents need help from the CMS to collect child maintenance – resulting in the child losing on average £70 a year in charges.

Gingerbread is concerned that this will result in some children missing out on much needed child maintenance.

“The risk is that these charges, combined with the closure of all CSA cases, will result in tens of thousands of families giving up on maintenance altogether and their children going without vital support,” explained Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir.

“It is deeply unfair to penalise the child for their other parent’s failure to pay and we are calling for the government to scrap the charge of 4% on all maintenance it collects.”

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