Child maintenance reform proposals

Posted 8 May 2024

The government has announced new proposals for reform of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

The key proposal is to abolish Direct Pay and reduce the fees for Collect and Pay, while also looking at what can be done to help people set up their own private arrangements.

We are working through the details of the new proposals but at first glance, we cautiously welcome them and the direction of travel they set. Enforcement of non-payment is a key area we have been putting pressure on the government to take action on. Having all parents using the CMS on a new form of Collect and Pay is expected to mean the CMS will be in a better position to enforce non-payment. We also welcome the proposals to reduce the fees for the CMS – an issue we have long campaigned on.

The government has also said it wants to look at how victims- survivors of domestic abuse can be better supported. This is particularly welcome given the high percentage of parents who use the CMS who have experienced domestic abuse.

We have concerns that if not implemented effectively, the new system could mean an increase in numbers with no child maintenance arrangement. We are also considering our position on the reduction rather than abolition of Collect and Pay fees.

The consultation will be open for 12 weeks.  You can read and respond to the full consultation here

We’ll be working to make sure as many single parents as possible are involved in feeding back on the changes. Sign up here and we’ll send you more information on how we can support you to feed in your views:

Parliament will need to pass the proposed changes into law. So it is unlikely that we will see any changes before the General Election.

Gingerbread’s Head of Policy and Campaigns Sarah Lambert said:

‘Lack of enforcement of child maintenance means that over half a billion pounds is owed to children – as a result, many live in poverty and even more go without.

‘That’s why we have been campaigning alongside single parents for action from Government on improving enforcement. We welcome any reform that has the potential to ensure more children get the money they are entitled to and more quickly. It’s clear too that the government has listened to our concerns on Collect and Pay charges.

However, we have concerns that the reforms risk more families ending up with no arrangements at all. We will work with single-parent families to look carefully at the details of the new proposals to help ensure the effectiveness of the changes.’