What are CSA charges?
Originally, the government proposed charging the following from 2013:
- £100 as an upfront fee (or £50 for parents on benefit) for those who want to use the future CSA. Only “Victims of domestic violence” will be exempt (although there is no detail on how this will be proved or checked).
- An on-going charge of between 7% and 12% on any maintenance paid to parents who rely on the future CSA to collect their child maintenance, as well as an extra 15-20% charge added to the non-resident parent’s payment.
After extensive lobbying from Gingerbread, the government is now proposing:
- £20 as an upfront fee for all parents with care who want to use the future CSA.
The ongoing charges remain the same.
We think that these proposals are unfair on single parents and their children, and will mean many families who really need this maintenance money lose out. The government asked for views on its proposals - single parents responded in droves.
Campaign update 26/03/12
We've been doing a lot of reflection on the CSA and the service it provides, including giving evidence at the Public Accounts Committee regarding how the CSA works for single parent families. Single parent Angela has also been thinking about what the CSA means to her family, and how she is going to approach the charges. Read her take on the CSA, plus all the latest from our campaign, here.
Campaign update 17/02/12
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for all of us, but the Welfare Reform Bill, which contains proposals to charge for access to the CSA, is now in the final stages and we’re not anticipating any further changes to the charging proposals. Find out what happens next, or read on for we see the campaign continuing long term.
Campaign update 02/02/12
As you know, we’ve been campaigning for over a year to stop government plans to charge single parents to access the Child Support Agency. Although we were successful in persuading peers to support our amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill, inflicting the largest defeat on the government since the election in doing so, on 1 February, MPs voted to overturn the Lords amendment that would stop the charges going ahead – a huge blow for single parents who rely on the CSA.
Throughout the campaign, members like you have stood up and protested about these deeply unfair plans – the government has reduced the upfront charge from £100 to £20 because of the strength of your campaigning, and we need you now more than ever. We don’t intend to give up on this fight, and we hope you won’t either.
The government has made it almost impossible for the Lords to fight back on this issue, by invoking financial privilege (find out more on what that means here). But there are a few key points where we can still make an impact:
• Getting the details The government still hasn’t published the ‘regulations’ – the actual nuts and bolts of charging, collection and the impact it predicts these changes will have. When these regulations come out the government will have to have a public consultation on them, and both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will have to vote to agree them. We will make sure you have the chance to get your voice heard loud and clear then – we will be lobbying the government heavily, and we will ask you to do the same with your own MP.
• Keeping a sharp eye on the impact Even if these plans go ahead, we will be raising funds to monitor very closely the impact the charges have on single parent families. Remember – just because the government has the power to do something doesn’t mean it has to go ahead with it, and if we can demonstrate that the charges are having a negative effect we can campaign for them to be dropped. We know that, despite the vote result, MPs across the parties are very worried about the consequences of the charges – particularly for their constituents – and we need to make sure their postbags are full of letters that tell them exactly what is happening in their area as a result.
• Refusing to let it drop There is a commitment from the government to review the charges two years down the line. By that point (if not before), we can put real pressure on parliament to get them scrapped.
We know what’s happened is hard to swallow, but Gingerbread is in this campaign for the long haul, and we need your support. This government has ignored the biggest defeat it has ever suffered in the House of Lords – an extraordinary and potentially damaging move from them – and we have friends across both Houses of Parliament, and across all parties, who fully support what we are trying to do. Former Conservative chancellor Lord Mackay - who led a Tory rebellion in the Lords against charges for parents to access the Child Support Agency – has already said it was "a waste of taxpayers' money at a time of considerable austerity" for peers to pass amendments which were then rejected out of hand. We will be keeping this campaign going strong until the government sees sense and listens to the Lords, listens to all the other organisations who agree with us, and listens to you.
Campaign update 26/01/12
The House of Lords have voted 270 to 128 against government proposals to charge parents to use the CS, sending a strong message the government that charging for child maintenance is simply not a fair plan. Read more about this key event in our campaign and find where we go from here.
Campaign update 20/01/12
The future plans for CSA are set to be challenged by a senior Conservative Peer next week on the final day of the Welfare Reform Bill’s Report Stage. Read more about this breaking news.
Campaign update 05/01/12
Our Chief Executive Fiona Weir, and single mum Cathy, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour to explain how CSA charging will bar single parent families from vital support. Read more and listen to the programme.
One size fits all? The need for a continued variety of child maintenance arrangements
Campaign update 30/11/11
Read our update of what happened when the Bill went to the House of Lords to be debated in our new report.
Campaign update 07/11/11
This paper examines the scope for more parents to be able to establish regular financial arrangements for children between themselves. It looks at the existing research evidence on the reasons behind the different maintenance arrangements parents make, and also reports on a survey carried out by Gingerbread among parents who currently have either no child maintenance arrangement or use the CSA.
Missing a trick? The role of child maintenance in tackling child poverty in single parent households
Analysis commissioned by Gingerbread shows that maximising the uptake of child maintenance would have a significant impact on the levels of child poverty experienced by single parents. These findings challenge government assumptions that child maintenance payments do not make a significant contribution to lifting children out of poverty.
Campaign update 16/09/11
After surveying nearly 2,000 of our members, we have released a shocking new report that highlights the impact charging would have on single parents lives. Read our press release that got coverage in the Guardian, FT and Mirror (amongst others), and read our short report by clicking on the icon below.
Earlier this month, when the government published the CSA's Top Ten Excuses we pointed out that it undermines government's case for charges. Read the press release.
Gingerbread is keeping up the pressure and we are still fighting hard to stop single parents having to pay to use the CSA. Here's what we've done so far.