Children: Maintenance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance her Department issues to (a) non-resident parents and (b) parents with care on changes to their child maintenance calculations when their case transfers from the Child Support Agency to the Child Maintenance Service.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Ahead of closure Child Support Agency send customers a series of letters advising about their case closing and what they can do should they want child maintenance payments to continue. This advice includes making an advance application to the Child Maintenance Service, t o ensure there are no breaks in child maintenance.

When the Child Support Agency case is closed, we write to non-resident parent during the stage where we are confirming the arrears position, to remind them of the amount we have worked out they owe. We advise them to contact us if they have any other relevant information which would impact this. A letter is then sent to receiving parent advising we have confirmed their balance of child maintenance. Where child maintenance is owed, we ask if the balance is correct and if they want their arrears written off or managed by Child Maintenance Service. Parents are provided with contact details to discuss their case, at all points.

In cases where the arrears are moved to Child Maintenance Service, a letter is sent to both parties confirming their Child Support Agency case is fully closed. We also advise the unpaid child maintenance is now being managed by Child Maintenance Service. This provides the parent with the new telephone number they will need if they wish to contact Child Maintenance Service.

Where there is a new Child Maintenance Service case, which was previously a Child Support Agency case, the calculation can change. This is because it is a fresh start under the new service, with new rules and data.

At the outset of a Child Maintenance Service case, we issue an indicative calculation letter to the parents. This explains the new calculation, including the information used in the calculation. This provides opportunity for the non-resident parent to provide any further information that would impact the calculation. Following this we issue an initial calculation letter which confirms the calculation and the details used.

Parents are advised they have the opportunity, throughout the application process and the life of the case as well as at annual review stage, to challenge the information used and request change.

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