This week, the Department for Work and Pensions released statistics for the Child Maintenance Service scheme, which was established back in 2012. The statistics cover between August 2013 (when the scheme really began) and November 2015. The statistics are experimental, which means that they haven’t yet been finalised.
The 2012 child maintenance scheme differs from others as its purpose is to support families who cannot make their own child maintenance arrangements. As a result of this objective, the DWP is encouraging people to not judge the statistics based on the former schemes. The main difference between the new scheme and the older schemes, is that users of the new scheme are required to pay a fee when they apply to use it alongside charges for both the paying parent and the receiving parent.
The statistics show that the amount of cases managed by the Child Maintenance Service is increasing, despite the application fees. When the fees were introduced in June 2014, the amount of cases was just over 66,000 and by 2015, this number had risen to over 187,000. To experts, this sounds like a confirmation that the fees are not putting people off from using the service. However, when compared to usage of the previous schemes, the figure was over a million. The statistics also show that 30 per cent of cases are exempt from paying an application fee.
In terms of payments, the statistics show that 87% of case groups were already paying towards their current liability, with 88% of the cash due being paid. However, the statistics show that the amount of arrears gathered under the 2012 scheme as of November 2015 was over £43.5 million. The DWP has also said that the arrears figure will grow as the caseload increases for the CMS scheme and is actually less than the amount of debt accrued from the older schemes.
The last point of the statistics says that the amount of children benefiting from receiving maintenance ‘continues to increase’ and as of November 2015, the number of children per quarter receiving a payment stood at £185,300. However, this figure is calculated from cases where a payment was received, so it is not known exactly how many children received the full amount. There are also a large number of children who are receiving nothing at all, although this statistic hasn’t been released yet.
Family law experts say that the statistics appear to show that the 2012 scheme is doing a ‘good job’. They say that the problem lies with the fact that the 2012 scheme, as indicated by the old system figures, is only dealing with ‘the tip of the iceberg’. The experts said that the older child maintenance schemes were known for their inefficiency, running up almost £4 billion in arrears. They also said that the Government have strategically said that the new figures cannot be compared with the older ones in order to make them look more impressive.
To find more information about the child maintenance service, to apply for the new scheme or for general queries about paying child maintenance, call the CSA contact number.