Minister pledges more help for hard-pressed single parent families and a fairer deal for parents who share care.
Parents on income-related benefits who live apart from their children are to have the amount of child maintenance they must pay increased from £5 to £10 per week. The change will apply to clients of the new statutory child maintenance scheme.
Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:
Parents’ responsibility continues post separation, particularly when it comes to financial support. We are determined to support, encourage and- if necessary- enforce parental financial responsibility. It is right that those claiming benefits make a greater real contribution towards their children’s upbringing. Our wider welfare reforms will ensure that working to support your family is always a better option than dependency on benefits.
The changes announced today will help ensure that all non-resident parents make a meaningful financial contribution to the welfare of their children and offer a fairer deal for parents who share the care of their children.
A widely resented Child Support Agency rule will be scrapped for clients of the new scheme. This required some parents to pay maintenance even though they share the care of their children on a 50-50 basis. In the future, no maintenance will need to be paid in cases like these where care is shared exactly equally.
The Government is also making changes to the way maintenance is calculated to get closer to equalising the treatment of children living with and living apart from the non-resident parent.
A further change will mean that any children living in Great Britain in the UK being supported by the non-resident parent outside the statutory scheme, will be taken into account when making a maintenance calculation in the statutory scheme.
Maria Miller added:
The Government wants to encourage and support parents to make their own family-based arrangements whenever possible because they are better for families. We are also committed to providing a much better statutory service for those separated parents for whom this is not possible. We will be introducing the new scheme through a pathfinder from October. It will be This will be faster and simpler than the two Child Support Agency schemes now in operation. And most importantly, it will be fairer for both mums and dads.
The Government has also announced today that it will use a pathfinder approach to introduce the new scheme gradually from October 2012. The increase from £5 to £10 in the amount paid by parents on income-related benefits will take place when the scheme is opened to all new applicants.
Notes to editors:
- The existing Child Support Agency statutory schemes will be replaced with a new, single scheme from October 2012 using a Pathfinder approach. The increase from £5 to £10 in the amount paid by parents on certain contribution and income-related benefits and those with incomes of less than £100 per week will take place when the scheme is opened to all new applicants.
- In the new statutory child maintenance scheme the percentage reduction for ‘relevant other children’ will be 11% for one child, 14% for two children and 16% for three or more children.
The Government’s response to the consultation on the future child maintenance scheme regulations is published at http://childmaintenance.org/en/publications/consultations.html