UK Government Tightens Child Maintenance Service Reform

The UK government is intensifying its efforts to address non-paying parents through a comprehensive reform of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which took effect this week, on 12th of February 2024. Key highlights of the reform include:

  • Harsher Enforcement Actions:

Parents who wilfully refuse to contribute to child maintenance will face more robust enforcement measures.

  • Scrapping of £20 CMS Application Fee:

Beginning 26th February, the £20 application fee for CMS will be abolished, ensuring that no child misses out on the support they deserve.

The reform aims to expedite the process of obtaining financial support for children by implementing measures proposed after a government consultation in October. The response to the consultation, published on 12th February, confirmed the acceleration of these reforms to promote fairness for both children and parents.

Key Changes:

  • Reduced Enforcement Time:

All enforcement actions will be expedited, reducing the duration from six months to just six weeks, fostering a fairer system for both parents and children.

  • Administrative Liability Order:

The CMS will now have the authority to use an administrative liability order for the recovery of unpaid child maintenance, streamlining the process from around 22 weeks to six to eight weeks. This ensures quicker consideration of further actions such as forced property sale or disqualification from driving.

  • Debt Write-off for Small Balances:

The reformed laws include provisions for the CMS to write off debts of less than £7 in a limited number of inactive cases. This targeted approach ensures efficient use of taxpayers’ money, as well as caseworkers’ time, by closing cases with small outstanding balances.

  • Effective Targeting of Larger Debts:

Empowered by enhanced powers and an improved liability order process, the CMS will be able to swiftly address parents with significantly larger debts, minimising the impact on households missing vital financial support.

These legislative changes signify a significant step towards financial security for thousands of children and parents, holding non-compliant parents accountable and ensuring a more responsive and effective child maintenance system.

For any inquiries or concerns regarding the above topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.