4. Rates used by the Child Support Agency

The Child Support Agency (CSA) only handles cases opened before 25 November 2013. New cases should be raised with the Child Maintenance Service.

There are 4 rates of child maintenance used by the Child Support Agency. They’re used with the paying parent’s income to work out a weekly amount of child maintenance. These rates apply to CSA cases opened after March 2003 (‘2003 scheme’ cases).

Nil rate

This means the paying parent pays no child maintenance because they:

  • are a student
  • are a child aged 16 or under (or 18 or under if they’re in full-time education not higher than A-level)
  • are a prisoner
  • get an allowance for work-based training or Skillseekers training (in Scotland)
  • live in a care home or independent hospital and get help with the fees
  • are 16 or 17 years old and get certain benefits - or their partner gets certain benefits

Flat rate

This is £5 per week no matter how many children are involved. It’s used if the paying parent’s weekly income is between £5 and £100 and they don’t qualify for the nil rate.

It’s also used if they get certain benefits, including (but not limited to):

  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • State Pension
  • Training Allowance
  • War Disablement Pension
  • Universal Credit

If the paying parent lives with a partner, the flat rate will be used if the partner gets:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

Reduced rate

This is used if the paying parent’s net weekly income is more than £100 but less than £200. They pay the flat rate of £5 plus a percentage of their net weekly income.

Basic rate

This is a percentage of the paying parent’s net income. It’s used if they have a net weekly income of £200 or more. The percentage depends on:

  • the number of children needing child maintenance
  • the number of other children the paying parent or their partner get Child Benefit for

The ‘paying parent’ is the parent who doesn’t have main day-to-day care of the child. The ‘receiving parent’ is the parent with main day-to-day care of the child.