Most Direct Pay arrangements under CMS still in place one year later

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a 30 month review of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and its assistance with helping separated parents come to their own arrangements for the payment of child maintenance. The CMS was launched in 2012 and replaced the old Child Support Agency. It is designed to help separated families come to their own financial arrangements. The DWP says that the old system was failing families because it was complicated, did not encourage collaboration, and was not providing value for taxpayers.

The research by the DWP shows:

  • almost seven out of ten parents (68%) with a Direct Pay arrangement – meaning the paying parent is paying the child maintenance directly to the receiving parent rather than via the CMS – had their arrangement in place three months after receiving their child maintenance calculation from the CMS
  • a year after setting up their arrangement, 62% of parents using the Direct Pay service still had that arrangement in place, and 19% had another type of maintenance arrangement
  • more than half (56%) of parents who made an enquiry into the CMS and then did not proceed with an application, or closed an application, said they intended to set up an alternative arrangement with their ex-partner – normally a family-based arrangement
  • nine out of ten of those family-based arrangements were financial arrangements and 86% of those were described as effective

Parents who cannot manage their child maintenance payments on Direct Pay can use the CMS’s Collect and Pay service. However this service does involve charges by the CMS to both parents, usually 20% being paid by the paying parent on top of the CMS calculation, and 4% being deducted from the amount the receiving parent gets paid. The CMS also has powers to enforce payments, for example by deducting payments from the paying parent’s earnings or benefits.

Publication of the research reports concludes the 30 month review into the impact of charging for child maintenance services. The government will be responding to the findings from the 30 month review this year. To access the research reports, click here and scroll to the foot of the press release.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email