Recent research reveals there has been a significant drop in the number of parents choosing to seek help through the Child Maintenance Service due to the introduction of charges.
The service fees, which were introduced in August, charges users £20 to calculate the sum to be received by the parent, along with an annual review to check the amount coincides with the partner’s income. The system implemented by the Child Maintenance Service will replace the Child Support Agency and began closing previous cases in June. Parents could potentially face further charges on top of the fee if the Child Maintenance Service is forced to collect money from the child’s other parent, charging an additional 20 percent.
Since the charges were introduced Government figures show that 3,700 less parents applied to the CMS in August, a 38 percent drop in comparison to May before the introduction of the charges.
There are worries that these charges will affect those families most in need of financial support, with only a 40 percent of the two million single parent families receiving child maintenance payments from the non-resident parent. It is feared the new charges could worsen the situation even further, inadvertently penalising those parents who already face financial struggles. Statistics show that children in single parent house holds are twice as likely to live in poverty in comparison to those who grow up with parents who are still together.
The Government hopes these charges will encourage parents to reach an independent settlement, without the assistant of the Child Maintenance Service. However, there are concerns this will fail to happen, with the idea being termed unrealistic, as the prospect of parents reaching an agreement following the break down of a relationship remains an unlikely ideal.