Resolution statement on proposed changes to CSA charges

News Release

03 Feb 2012

The Government has proposed changes to the charges levied by the Child Support Agency, which were debated in Parliament this week as MPs considered the Lords' amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill. Speaking in response, Kim Fellowes, who chairs Resolution’s Child Support Committee, said,

“Resolution understands the need to make savings to the welfare bill, and, as part of that, reduce the costs of the Child Support Agency (CSA). However, we are very concerned that the Government’s proposals for charges will have the opposite effect to that which is intended, and will only recoup a fraction of the agency’s statutory running costs. We believe that no charges should be introduced until proper research has been carried out as to the impact of such charges on the CSA’s overall balance sheet.

“This was the recommendation of Sir David Henshaw’s 2006 report. Sir David also made clear that there should not be a disincentive for parents who have no other way of agreeing maintenance except via the CSA. If the Lords are overturned, this is exactly what will happen. There will be no incentive for a difficult non-resident parent to make a fair agreement – or any agreement at all – if they know their former partner cannot afford the CSA fees. For many single parents, the costs involved represent a significant sum of money, which means, coupled with the 7-12% collection fee, there is a real risk that they will lose what they are entitled to.

“The CSA was designed to ensure non-resident parents were made to face up to their responsibilities; at the moment, there is a real chance that the Government, despite its rhetoric, will let them off the hook.”