Under the proposed scheme, non-resident parents’ maintenance liabilities will be based on their gross income for the latest tax year available from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs at the time that a case is opened or is subject to an annual review.
With the increased focus on parents agreeing to voluntary arrangements and the ending of the requirement that parents with care on benefit be treated as applying for child maintenance, not all of the current Child Support Agency case load will choose to use the statutory maintenance service. Since we do not know the precise composition of the resulting case load, no estimates have been made on the proportion of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs gross income data which will be (a) less than one year out of date, (b) more than one year out of date and (c) more than two years out of date when calculating child maintenance under the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
[holding answer 8 October 2007]: We want to take firm action at the earliest opportunity against non-resident parents who do not fulfil their responsibility to pay maintenance.
The Child Support Agency has already begun to improve the recovery of debt as part of the Operational Improvement Plan and is committed to recovering over £200 million historic debt by 2009.
The Commission will build on the current Child Support Agency debt strategy and the success of the Operational Improvement Plan. Through the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill we intend to strengthen the range of enforcement and debt management powers that will be at the disposal of the Commission. The Bill proposes new and streamlined enforcement provisions such as administrative liability orders, disqualification from holding or obtaining a travel authorisation, collection of maintenance directly from accounts held by financial institutions, enforcing the surrender of a non-resident parent’s passport and imposing a curfew.
New debt management powers, such as the ability to accept part payment of arrears in full and final settlement, will, where appropriate, take account of the wishes of the parent with care. These powers will help the Commission manage debt, including interim maintenance assessment debt. The new debt management and enforcement measures will be used both to encourage ongoing compliance to prevent the new debt building up, and to enable more of the accumulated debt to be recovered.