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CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY - the changes
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As announced on the 27/10/08 and the 03/11/08 it is now a criminal offence to move home and not inform the agency within seven days. (It is also envisaged that at some time in the future it will also be a criminal offence to change job or occupation without notifying the agency within seven days.')
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What is new, Changes to the Child Support Agency and a new direction for the Tribunals Service

From today the 27th of October 2008 No one will be compelled to go to the Child Support agency.   If they can reach a private agreement then no matter, they do not need the Child Support Agency. However if they cannot reach an agreement then the services of the Agency remain in place for their use.

Further C-MEC will not be fully rolled out until 2013. Then non-resident parents will face a new way of calculating their income along with a new percentage deduction rate.  This will be at 10%, 15% and 20 % of gross income for: - one, two, and three or more children.

Collection and Enforcement regulations under C-MEC have also been rolled out. This means more stringent and focused collection of Arrears both current and historical.  This means that the Agency can collect arrears even when the qualifying children are no longer qualifying and could even be working or married with their own children!

Also the Agency will now be able to track down non-resident parent bank accounts, freeze them as well as any other assets that the Agency can find. This is in addition to liability orders, charging orders with and incorporating a power of sale of the property charged. We will still have driving licences confiscated for up to two years and custodial sentences for up to 42 days. Passports will also be fair game to be confiscated for failure to pay.

The Tribunals Service

 Tribunal Chairmen are now able to encourage parents at a hearing to enter into an agreement, which is in accordance with the above.

Comment

 Do I see this working, well no? In part, a very small part yes. The majority of cases will still use the Agency this is in part down to human nature.

 The formula is also unfair. The Agency In Australia upon which this formula seems to be largely based has a much fairer non-resident parent and resident-parent formula interaction which helps remove perceived injustices between both parties.  In Australia the Agency even acts as a private agreement collection service.

I perceive a lack of Joined Up Thinking once more by the powers that be.

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As announced on the BBC News on 27 January 2009 - Parents who do not pay child support could have their passports and driving licences seized without having to be taken to court. The Department for Work and Pensions said the proposals contained in the Welfare Reform Bill would be a "last resort" if other sanctions failed.

Latest estimates suggest absent parents owe nearly £4bn in unpaid maintenance. But opponents say the government's plans could lead to breaches of parents' civil rights.  The Child Support Agency can confiscate the driving licences of parents who refused to pay for their children, but it had to apply for a court order to do so.  Last year, Parliament passed an act giving the body which oversees the CSA and is developing its successor - the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) - the same power in relation to passports.

The new legislation would allow the CMEC to bypass the courts and confiscate absent parents' passports and driving licences until the money is paid in full. The government argues that this is "faster, simpler and easier for the taxpayer".   Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said: "We are supporting parents in these tough times, but for those who choose not to support their own kids, we will not stand by and do nothing. "If a parent refuses to pay up then we will stop them travelling abroad or even using their car. "We want fair rules for everybody and that means giving people the support they need, but in return expecting them to live up to their responsibilities."

Janet Allbeson, from the one-parent family advisory group Gingerbread, told the BBC she supported the idea as a last resort. "Over half of all children in single-parent households are poor. And we know, because Parliament has told us, that if all non-resident parents who are required to pay money each week by the Child Support Agency did so it would lift an extra 100,000 children out of poverty." The government says the new plan will be tested in certain areas of the country. Similar schemes in the US and Australia have been successful in increasing payments. Other powers open to the CMEC include taking money from a bank account without going through the courts; applying for a curfew, or recovering money from a dead person's estate. Opponents are worried that civil liberties may be undermined if bureaucrats have the power to take away passports and driving licences.