MP gives backing to CSA overhaul

Tricia Marriott with her daughter Mia
Tricia Marriott with her daughter Mia

The controversial Child Support Agency (CSA) is being replaced as part of a Government overhaul of the system.

In a bid to get more parents to work together and amicably come to financial arrangements for the sake of their children, the CSA is being replaced by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

And a loophole in the old system, which meant fathers who were working as well as being a full-time student were exempt from paying maintenance, has been closed.

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer said the CSA was in need of a desperate revamp: “The CSA was in a total mess and half my postbag was filled about the service.

“It seemed that they squeezed the responsible parents who were an easy target whilst the runaway dads got away with it.”

The changes have also been welcomed by Hucknall mum Tricia Marriott.

Tricia contacted the Dispatch after being told by the Child Support Agency (CSA) that her application for financial assistance from her child’s father couldn’t go-ahead because he was a student.

But after the Dispatch looked into the issue, it was discovered that this was about to alter.

The changes to the CSA started in December 2012 for a specific group of parents and is expected to be rolled out to everyone in late summer with the student loophole closed.

“Parents who are students will have any income they earn taken into account for a child maintenance calculation,” said a CSA spokesman. “The new CMS will be more efficient and effective than the CSA, but it is only designed for those parents that really need to use it.

“The Government is keen for parents to collaborate and work out their own family-based maintenance arrangements between themselves.”

Those parents wanting to use the new CMS will be charged £20 to apply.

There will be two ways for maintenance to be paid either by’Direct Pay’ where payments are made directly between the parents or the ‘Collection Service’ controlled by the CMS which will mean the paying parent giving 20 per cent extra with seven per cent taken in collection charges.

Tricia said: “If it hadn’t been for the Dispatch I wouldn’t have known this.

The Government need to communicate these changes to people affected - especially when it’s such a serious issue.

“It is good news that they have closed the loophole and hopefully my daughter will benefit from this.”

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