New legislation on the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) progresses through Parliament

Posted 27 February 2023

This week two new Bills (or draft laws) on how the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) works will take one step closer to becoming law.

Both Bills have been developed and introduced by Conservative backbench MPs.

On Wednesday, Siobhan Baillie MP’s Bill to give the CMS more ‘teeth’ to follow up with non-resident parents who persist in non-payment of maintenance will be debated in a Committee of MPs.

Then on Friday, Sally Ann Hart MP’s Bill which aims to improve the way the CMS works for survivors of domestic abuse will complete its passage in the House of Commons, before going to the Lords.

Most Bills developed by backbench MPs are stopped from becoming law, but we are pleased that the Government has agreed to support both of these Bills, meaning they will become law.

However, on both enforcement and domestic abuse, we believe that significant further changes are needed to the CMS. Siobhan Baillie’s Bill gives new powers on enforcement, but we know that the CMS is failing to consistently use many of its existing powers effectively and it needs to be held to account on this. There also needs to be a system of payments being made to parents from the Government, where non-resident parents are failing to pay. This can be paid back by the non-resident parent through the CMS’ enforcement mechanism. We also call for charges made to the receiving parent, through the use of Collect and Pay to be scrapped, particularly in cases of domestic abuse.

We have been working with Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) on these issues and have sent written briefings to MPs to ask for these changes to be made or at the very least for the issues we raise to be discussed further as part of the debates on the two Bills.