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This briefing paper considers the Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019. Introducing the Measure in the Commons in June 2019, the Undersecretary of State, Will Quince, stated that the regulations intended to introduce:

provisions to make deductions from benefit fairer, to address uncollectable debt and to improve information-gathering processes, alongside amendments to the calculation and fees regulations so that they better reflect the intent of the 2012 reforms.

These 2012 reforms are detailed in the Library Briefing Papers, Child Maintenance: How it is calculated under the 2012 scheme and Child Maintenance: Fees, enforcement and arrears. The Measure was also debated in the House of Lords in July 2019.

The regulations were introduced following the publication of the Child Maintenance and Arrears Strategy (2018) by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).    

Part 2 (regulations 3–8) of the Statutory Instrument (SI) increased the amount the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) could deduct in arrears from benefit payments to £8.40 each week and enabled deductions for ongoing maintenance and arrears from Universal Credit.

Part 3 (regulation 9) allows the CMS and Child Support Agency (CSA) to write off all child maintenance debt when it becomes legally uncollectable as a result of the protected trust deed process. A protected trust deed is a formal agreement in Scotland between a debtor and their creditors, where the relevant creditors will receive some payments towards outstanding debts.

Part 4 (regulations 10–13) expanded on the Child Support Information Regulations 2008, that placed a duty on listed individuals and organisations to provide information to enable the amount of child maintenance payable by the non-resident parent to be calculated, or for arrears to be recovered. The CMS was already able to request information from mortgage lenders and occupational pensions on a voluntary basis, and this change made it compulsory to provide information. Part 4 also amended the CMS’s powers of entry, by allowing an inspector to apply to the relevant court for a warrant for entry if access to the relevant premises has previously been refused or if it is considered likely that access without a warrant will be refused. 

Part 5 (regulation 14) amends the maintenance calculation regulations to take account of an Upper Tribunal ruling, so as to ensure that allowable expenses under Part 5 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Provisions) Act 2003 are not treated as income when calculating child maintenance liabilities.

Part 6 (regulation 15) seeks to clarify the circumstances in which arrangements are considered to be in place for the purposes of determining whether a collection fee is payable, following a court judgment.

This SI applied to Great Britain only.

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