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Family Law

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14 OCT 2010

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission to be reformed

ParliamentThe government has announced this morning that the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) is among 192 quangos that are to be closed.

Under the forthcoming Public Bodies Bill, CMEC will become an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions. This change in status will have no immediate impact on the work of the Commission and its delivery arms; the Child Support Agency (CSA) and Child Maintenance Options information and support service will both continue to operate as before. The Commission will also continue the development of the proposed future child maintenance scheme, which is designed to eventually replace the CSA.

The Commission formally replaced the CSA last year and has the responsibility for the child maintenance system in Great Britain. The CSA had been beset with problems which led to its demise. In June 2006, the National Audit Office revealed that it cost the CSA 70p to collect every pound of child support and £3.5bn in payments had not been collected since 1993.

The government also confirmed that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is to be scrapped by the end of the current Parliament and its functions will be transferred to other regulators.

As previously announced, the Legal Services Commission is to be abolished and its functions moved to the Ministry of Justice. The Legal Services Ombudsman, which oversees the handling of complaints about lawyers in England and Wales, is also to be completely abolished by 2011.

Non-Departmental Public Bodies to be retained on the grounds that they perform a technical function which should remain independent of the government include the Family Justice Council, the Family Procedure Rule Committee, the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Legal Services Board.

However there is still some doubt over the future of Cafcass pending the outcome of the Family Justice Review Panel which is due to produce their report on the family justice system in 2011. Also under still under consideration is the Office of the Children's Commissioner which is subject to a formal review to be finalised by the end of November.

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