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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

25 JUL 2006

CSA Reforms

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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