Small changes to child support amidst rising concern about the CMS

Minor changes are planned to the operation of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), following a consultation on various issues.

Secondary legislation will be introduced to include unearned income in child maintenance calculations and extinguish small volumes of very low value debt (£6.99 and under) where the maintenance calculation has ended but there remains an outstanding debt, and the value of the debt is substantially less than the cost of collecting it

Arrears will be extinguished where child maintenance has been deducted from a parent’s earnings and their employer has gone into administration, and the outstanding arrears can no longer be recovered.

This comes at a time when there is increasing concern about the accuracy and efficiency of the work of the CMS in assessing and collecting child maintenance.  Shared Parenting Scotland receives increasing numbers of calls about these problems.

We advise parents to contact their MP for help with these difficulties, and hear that some Scottish MSPs report that an increasing proportion of their caseload is about CMS problems.

Responses to the recent consultation suggested that the rules on reassessing income calculation should be changed to allow changes to be made more readily given the pressure on employment caused by Covid.  At present income changes have to be 25% or greater before a change is made within 12 months of an assessment.

The Government will not be pursuing this proposal and instead will investigate alternative ways to improve the calculation process for self-employed parents.