Skip to main content

Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance – public consultation, closes 7/04/11

9 replies [Last post]
kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

This consultation seeks views on the Government’s strategy for reforming the child maintenance system. It is based on the Coalition Government’s principle of enabling parents to take responsibility for their families. To achieve this for child maintenance we are proposing to:

  • encourage separating families to recognise their ongoing responsibility for their children after they separate;
  • enable parents to make their own, family-based arrangements;
  • deliver a more efficient statutory service for those who need it;
  • provide greater value for money for the tax payer, and
  • work closely with colleagues across government and with stakeholders in developing these proposals.

Who this consultation is aimed at

We would like to hear from all who are interested in child maintenance issues. We particularly welcome contributions from

  • parents who live apart
  • representative organisations for parents who live apart or their children
  • representatives of the legal profession
  • organisations that represent families and children, and
  • members of the general public with an interest in child maintenance issues.

The consultation

PDF version

Other formats

If you would like to receive the consultation document in another format, for example in large print, please contact us using the details below.

Related documents

How to respond to this consultation

Start date 13 January 2011
End date 7 April 2011

You can respond by post or email as follows:

Child Maintenance Sponsorship and Strategic Policy Division
1st Floor,
Caxton House
Tothill Street




Please ensure your response reaches us by 7 April 2011<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

Where parents live apart, child maintenance is the regular financial support paid by the parent who is not living with the children to the parent who is the main day to day carer.

The Government believes that families themselves are best placed to determine what arrangements will work best for them. Evidence suggests that this is better for the children affected.

The Government wants to encourage and support parents to:

  • fulfil their responsibilities as parents by continuing their involvement in their children’s lives and through paying child maintenance
  • make family-based arrangements wherever possible rather than relying on government services to step in and administer arrangements

We are seeking views on our strategy for reforming the child maintenance system. The strategy is based on the principle of empowering parents to take responsibility for their children and families.

The consultation runs from 13 January 2011 until 7 April 2011.

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, a Crown non departmental public body, is responsible for child maintenance in Great Britain, including the functions of the Child Support Agency (CSA). The Commission seeks to ensure that all parents who live apart put in place effective arrangements to maintain their children, whether these are family based, through the courts or through the CSA.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

A radical reform of child maintenance which places family responsibility and the welfare of children at its heart is published for consultation by Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller today.

The plans, which focus on strengthening families, will encourage responsibility and support separating parents to reach their own agreement on maintenance and other issues important to the long term welfare of their children.

The current statutory system costs around £460m a year to run and can drive a wedge between parents and their children - encouraging conflict, and the Government believes that reaching a settlement independently is far more likely to produce better outcomes for the child.

Under the new system, parents will be able to get initial help and information on the range of options available to them free of charge. They can then decide whether to make their own arrangements, using the help they have received or to use the statutory service for which there will be a charge. In cases where people have suffered domestic violence, their case will be fast tracked directly onto the statutory service - and no payment will be required to enter the system.

Costs could include an upfront application charge of around £100. However, parents on benefits will pay a fee of £50, of which £20 will be paid upfront and the remainder in instalments. The charge will encourage more parents to reach agreement together without automatically falling back on the state to resolve the issues. 

Maria Miller said:

"The Government is clear about the importance of families and how strong stable family relationships produce the best results for children.

"Too often in the past the Child Support Agency has been used as a threat that can make the difficult time of separation worse instead of encouraging people to work together and take responsibility for their child.

"When couples split up they generally know what is best for them and their children without the state interfering.  Thousands of parents are already working together to make their own maintenance arrangements without the help of the Agency and tell us these arrangements are working well.

"We want more people to come to their own maintenance arrangements which are in the best interest of the child and offer value to the taxpayer."

Under the new scheme, depending on individual circumstances families could be offered help to calculate how much maintenance should be paid. The Government is also consulting on how best to ensure separated and separating families can access the support they need such as counselling, or help with relationship and financial issues.

As previously planned, a new more efficient statutory service will replace the Child Support Agency for those in most need and to tackle the minority of parents who refuse to pay.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The consultation paper: Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance is published today at<.
  2. The CSA currently spends over 40 pence for every pound transferred from the non resident parent to the resident parent – this does not represent value for money to the taxpayer.
  3. More than 3.5 million children live in separated families. Just under half of those actually benefit from an effective maintenance arrangement.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

Maria Miller< (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Disabled People), Work and Pensions; Basingstoke, Conservative)

I am pleased to announce today the publication of "Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance". This Green Paper< sets out our vision to empower and enable parents to take responsibility for the welfare of their children through reform of the child maintenance system. We recognise that for families, parental separation is an emotional time. The existing system, courts and maintenance, can lead to entrenched division< at a time when parents, more than ever, need to come together to put the welfare of their children first. The present system can make it difficult to come to agreements on some of the practical and important issues such as financial support for children. This reform is focused on better support for families to enable them to more easily reach their own family-based arrangements.

It can be difficult for separating families to navigate the support available to them during and after separation. There is no obvious path for families to follow especially around issues of money. We will work with other Government Departments and service providers to put in place a more integrated path.

We believe families should be supported to come to their own arrangements and feel empowered to make fully informed choices. The Green Paper< sets out our proposed reform of the statutory system based on these principles and building on the reforms outlined in the Henshaw report.

The proposed reform continues the plan to introduce a new, more efficient, statutory child maintenance system, develops the ideas in the Henshaw review and the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 to charge for the services provided by the future statutory service after it is introduced and also includes implementation of a gateway to access the statutory system. The reforms recognise that the most vulnerable parents will need special support and consideration, particularly those who have suffered domestic violence<.

We believe our proposals can deliver major benefits though supporting parents to come to their own family-based arrangements or for those who choose the new statutory system.

I welcome your contribution to this important piece of reform to the child maintenance system.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

First Evidence Session on the Committee's Child Maintenance Inquiry

The first evidence session of the Work & Pensions Committee's inquiry into Child Maintenance will take place on Monday 16 May at 4.30 pm, in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House.

Watch the meeting

Work & Pensions Committee


At 4.30pm

  • Caroline Bryson, social science researcher
  • Centre for Separated Families, Nick Woodall, Policy and Development
  • Fatherhood Institute, Adrienne Burgess, Head of Research
  •  Gingerbread, Janet Allbeson, Policy Adviser
  • June Venters QC

At 5.45pm (approx)

  • Stephen Geraghty, former Commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC)

The Work and Pensions Committee is conducting an inquiry into the proposed reforms of the child maintenance system. The Green Paper ‘Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility’ sets out the  Government’s view that parents should be encouraged and supported to make their own arrangements for the maintenance of their children, before deciding to use the statutory maintenance scheme. The proposals include introducing charges for parents who use the statutory child maintenance service.

The first session will seek evidence from a range of stakeholders and experts about the likely impact of the proposed reforms, including the impact on poorer or more vulnerable families.

The session with Stephen Geraghty will be an opportunity for the Committee to follow-up recommendations that its predecessor committee made in 2010 relating to the performance of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

The Terms of Reference for this inquiry can be found here<<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009
anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

Government’s response to the consultation on Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance.<

anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

Reverse unfair plans to cut support by up to £27 per week for 100,000 disabled children

5 August 2011

Following the introduction of the government's new "Universal Credit" welfare system, many families with disabled children will face a cut to the financial support they receive.

The new system will result in these children losing up to £1400 per year (£27 per week) compared to the current system - by the time a disabled child reaches 16, this could cost the family £22,000.

Because the support is means tested the poorest families could stand to lose the most. The Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change - other estimates suggest the number could be considerably higher.

Financial support is crucial to help these families with the costs of raising a disabled child and manage their extra caring responsibilities; now is the time to makes some noise and ensure that these damaging proposals do not get approved. Disabled children should not pay the price for welfare reform - sign this petition to stop this cut.

[Children's Society e-petition - HM Government website]

More information<

anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

Social Mobility and Child Poverty review - Call for evidence

The Government has appointed Alan Milburn as Independent Reviewer of Social Mobility and Child Poverty<, pending the establishment of a statutory Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission next year. 

Read the Terms of Reference for the Review<.

The Commission will be issuing its first report to Parliament in Spring next year. This Call for Evidence will help inform that report, alongside Alan Milburn’s discussions with a broad range of stakeholders, including:

  • employers
  • universities
  • government departments
  • voluntary and community sector
  • parents and young people. 

The report will also take into account the evidence collected for:

  • Alan Milburn’s review Unleashing Aspiration: The Final Report of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions
  • Frank Field’s review The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults
  • Graham Allen’s review of Early Intervention
  • the Child Poverty Strategy Consultation. 

The Call for Evidence explores questions around how child poverty and social mobility are linked, and the examples of how projects can be set up and expanded and progress measured on these issues. Your responses will help the Independent Review to build recommendations for what action Government, and wider civil society, should take in order to raise social mobility and tackle child poverty. 


Please only respond to those questions which are relevant to you or your organisation.

  • What do you think are the links between social mobility and child poverty?
  • What are the main barriers which stop people moving out of poverty or which prevent people from slipping into poverty?
  • Do you think the Government’s policies, in particular the social mobility and child poverty strategies, will improve people’s life chances?
  • Are there other policies that could be implemented for the same cost which would ensure that all citizens have the same opportunities?
  • How can we create the right mix of practical and financial support to ensure that all people have opportunities to get on in life?
  • What are the best examples of projects which have brought about real progress in creating a fairer, more mobile society?
  • What are the best examples of where effective projects have been expanded and best practice shared with other areas or organisations?
  • What more should businesses, civil society and other non-government institutions be doing to improve social mobility and tackle child poverty?
  • What would be the best way to measure progress on social mobility and child poverty?
  • Do you think the indicators set out in the child poverty strategy< and social mobility strategy< are the right measures?  

How to respond

Deadline: 16 October 2011

Online: Call for evidence online question form (opens in a new window)<

Email: You can repond by using the consultation response word form [RTF]< and sending it to:<

Post: You can also post your response to:

Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty
c/o Sarah Hickey
Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
London SW1A 2AS


Call for evidence - questions [rich text format]<
File type: Rich Text Format | File size: 93.69 kB<
Social Mobility and Child Poverty Review - Terms of reference<
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 38.17 kB<
anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

In January 2012, End Child Poverty published the ‘Child Poverty Map of the UK’ report.

The report provides a localised map of child poverty on the closest possible measure to that used nationally by the government. The figures show the scale of the challenge to achieve the goal of ending child poverty, especially in some local areas. In 100 wards throughout the UK, the majority of children remain in poverty.

Click here< for report (pdf)

Click here< for End Child Poverty website<