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Flaws in child maintenance proposals, say charities

UK charities Gingerbread and Barnardo’s are highlighting research evaluating the Child Maintenance Options Service which supports their concerns around Government proposals to charge parents up to £100 for access to the Child Support Agency (CSA).


Commissioned by the Government’s own Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission, the research confirms the crucial role that the CSA plays in helping single parents access money to support their families.


The Government is making every effort to encourage ‘parental responsibility’ by proposing that all separated parents must first try to make voluntary arrangements for child maintenance, with their ex-partner. If this fails then parents will be forced to pay both upfront and ongoing charges for access to the statutory service, yet for many parents, making private agreements with their partners is unfeasible or impossible.


The survey found that:

  • Only 16% of parents in the survey fell into the category of those most likely to make a private arrangement that works – because they were recently separated; had a friendly relationship with the ex-partner, and there was contact between the parents and between the non-resident parent and child.  
  • Around 45% of parents in the survey were in the group least likely to make private arrangement – because they had a bitter separation, had been separated for a long time, and there was little contact between parents or children and non-resident parents or they had never been in a relationship with the other parent (4%). 
  • Two-thirds of this group were reliant on the Child Support Agency for child maintenance.



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