CSA Reforms

25 JUL 2006

An independent report on child support in the UK by Sir David Henshaw, Recovering child support: routes to responsibility (Cm 6894) was published on 24 July 2006. The Government's response A fresh start: child support Redesign (Cm 6895) was published on the same day and supports the Henshaw recommendations which are as follows:

Overall change: Create a system that allows parents to make their own arrangements for child support, with quick and effective involvement from the State where such arrangements are not possible.

Changes for benefit clients: Remove the compulsion for parents with care on benefits to apply for child support.

Disregarding maintenance in benefit calculations:
a) Disregard child support up to a high threshold in calculating Income Support.
b) Disregard child support entirely in calculating Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

Information and advice services: Reconfigure advice services to ensure that child support information is properly integrated. The details of this should be developed by a cross-government group.

Legal system: Remove the current 12-month break-point, preventing consent orders from being overturned by the administrative organisation, in line with the pre-2003 position.

Enforcement:
a) Manage enforcement as a distinct business function.
b) Introduce new sanctions, including the power to withdraw passports, and make more use of existing powers such as imposing financial penalties.

Delivering a new service:
a) Create a new organisation to administer child support.
b) Create a time-limited residuary body to manage down and enforce old debt.

Transition:
a) There should be no conversion of cases from the existing to the redesigned system.
b) Parents wishing to use the new administrative system will be supported to re-apply.

A new operating model: Child support should be delivered through a commissioning body drawing on expertise from the private, not for profit and wider public sectors.

See September [2006] Fam Law for the full news article.

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