Maria Miller, the Government’s family spokesperson, has announced that the Child Support Agency will soon be charging for the services it provides. At present, the Government estimates that it costs £460 million a year to fund the agency which currently does not charge parents to use its services.
Under the new proposal separating parents will be able to get initial help free of charge to encourage them to come to an arrangement themselves. However, if they cannot do so and wish to use the Child Support Agency instead there will be a charge. It is thought that the initial application fee could be £100, payable by the applying parent, but this will be reduced to £50 if the applying parent is in receipt of state benefits. There will be no charge to use the service if there is a history of domestic violence. Finally, the non-resident parent who will be paying the maintenance will also be charged a collection fee to cover the costs of administration.
The Government hope these new proposals will encourage separating parents to come to arrangements between themselves without the need for a statutory service but whether or not this will affect the welfare of children, whose parents may not be able to afford to use the Child Support Agency, is an area of concern.
Family Law Department