Research and analysis

Child Maintenance Service Direct Pay clients survey

This research provides information on child maintenance arrangements set up using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) Direct Pay service.


Survey of Child Maintenance Service Direct Pay clients


This research aims to provide an overview of how many child maintenance arrangements are still in place 3 and 12 months after they were set up and:

  • how effective they are
  • whether alternative arrangements have been made

It also highlights some areas where design and delivery could be improved.

We undertook this research because payments using Direct Pay are made directly between the 2 parents, and therefore no administrative data exists.

It will form part of the 30 month review of the impact of charging, due to be complete by 31 December 2016. As such it has been published alongside 3 other research reports which are part of the review and inform the review report due to be published in early 2017.

The 3 other research reports are:

Authors: Rakhee Patel, Julia Griggs, Allison Dunatchik, Meg Callanan, Hannah Jones and Ruth Hudson, National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

Completion of the 30 month review

A key recommendation from Sir David Henshaw’s 2006 report on the future of Britain’s child maintenance system was to introduce fees and charging to the statutory child maintenance system. The intention behind this recommendation was to prevent parents from defaulting to the statutory service if they could make a family-based arrangement instead, which can reduce conflict and tends to lead to better outcomes for the children involved.

Application fees and collection charges were introduced to the new CMS in June 2014. Section 141 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 required the Department for Work and Pensions to review the impact of charging no later than 30 months after it was introduced, meaning by the end of December 2016.

The 4 reports published in December 2016 complete the 30 month review. These reports are the last documents in a series of publications which together form the 30 month review.

As stated in our published evaluation strategy, in order to complete the 30 month review within the statutory deadline, the fieldwork ran to mid-2016 to include as much information as possible about the impact of charging.

As we have taken a staged approach to giving existing Child Support Agency clients the opportunity to consider applying to the new scheme and some cases are still in the old scheme, the review will only give a partial picture of the impact of the reforms.

Despite this, the findings will help identify areas where improvements can be made, and provide an opportunity for early learning. We will continue our evaluation throughout the process of case closure.

The department is considering these findings and a review report will be published in early 2017.

List of DWP publications comprising the 30 month review

Research publications

Statistical publications

Published 16 December 2016