Department for Work and Pensions
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DWP publishes response to consultation on Child Maintenance White Paper
The Department for Work and Pensions has today published its response to the consultation on the Child Maintenance White Paper, 'A New System of Child Maintenance', which was published last year.
The White Paper put forward proposals for a fresh start for child maintenance and would replace the Child Support Agency (CSA) with a tougher non-departmental body led by a new Commissioner for Child Maintenance.
The new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) would provide a new information and support service to ensure parents get additional help to make their own maintenance arrangements where they can, or use the new body to quickly establish and enforce payments where they cannot.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton, said:
"Parents have an absolute moral and financial duty to support their children. Our proposals firmly place this responsibility with parents, and support them to make private arrangements which put their kids first.
"However, there will always be individuals who try to escape their obligations and the new commission will have the powers to come down hard and fast on those who force the state to intervene."
The consultation received around 200 responses and a high level of support for proposals that establish and enforce clear rights and responsibilities.
Proposals being taken forward include:
* The introduction of an information and support service, open to all parents who need help and support to establish and maintain private arrangements;
* Removing the requirement to apply to the courts before proceeding with enforcement action and replacing it with a swifter and more effective administrative process;
* Make much more use of information drawn from financial institutions and credit reference agencies in order to trace non-resident parents and collect and enforce maintenance;
* Seek new powers that would allow C-MEC to take money out of people's bank accounts;
* Enforce the surrender of a non-resident parent's passport or impose a curfew on them if they fail to pay maintenance;
* Publish, in suitable cases, the names of non-resident parents who are successfully prosecuted or who have a successful application made against them in court;
The department is also publishing today its response to the conclusions and recommendations of The Work and Pensions Select Committee report 'Child Support Reform' which was published earlier this year.
Notes to editors
1) The reports are available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/childmaintenance
2) On December 13 2006 the DWP published the Child Maintenance White Paper: 'A new system of child maintenance' which can be found at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/childmaintenance