CSA closure: what next for parents?
The Department for Work and Pensions plans to close almost one million Child Support Agency cases over the next three years as part of the shutdown of the Agency.
The Agency has already ceased taking on new cases. Those who are separating now have access to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) instead or can make their own private arrangements.
Parents with Care (PWC) who have CSA cases will be contacted by letter with a closure date for their case and advice about what steps they can take next to ensure there is no interruption to the money they receive. 150,000 parents with ‘nil-assessed’ cases will be contact first: those are cases in which the circumstances of the Non Resident Parent (NRP) are such that no maintenance is payable to the PWC.
There are fears that parents may ignore the letters, thinking they are not affected because no maintenance is payable anyway, but because the new rules the Child Maintenance Service uses more robust and the NRP’s circumstances may have changed, those with nil-assessed cases may now be entitled to some money. The new regime allows the CMS to use data from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the people who collect taxes, so it will be harder for NRPs to conceal income.
The Government Minister for Child Maintenance, Steven Webb said:
“We’re reforming the child maintenance system because we want to get more maintenance to more children. This process provides parents with an opportunity to re-consider their child maintenance arrangements and our estimates show that as many as 50,000 children could benefit.
I would urge anyone who receives a letter from the CSA about their case closing to look carefully at the options, as they may be surprised at the support available to them.”
Where can you find out more?
Parents are encouraged to visit the Government’s information site at www.gov.uk/csachanges to find out more about how they might be affected and what they can do.