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CMS Consultation : Powers of entry and information

* The deadline is Monday 11th February at 2 pm *

CMS is consulting on a proposal relating to Powers of Entry(a) and Information(b).

Details of the consultation can be found here

"Powers of Entry" already exist. Under this proposal, CMS would obtain a warrant to enter premises when seeking information that may assist them in determining or enforcing Child Maintenance Assessments.

The "Information" proposal deals with extending powers to seek information about a paying parent from their mortgage lender or pension provider, not least to assess what assets they have and how much equity there is in their property.

Read More for FNF's Analysis and views on the proposals and details for submissions to the consultation...

The first proposal, on the face of it, seems to provide modest new safeguards to privacy through judicial oversight. It may also make it easier to enter premises and a warrant could become a 'rubber stamping' exercise. It does not address the issue of whether the assessments made in the first place were fair or reasonable. 

The second proposal extends powers further, again without first reviewing the current unfair formula for child maintenance. It focuses on enforcing historic failures to pay Child Maintenance using a Charging Order or an Order For Sale (of a property). The consultation says that this will affect fewer than 300 cases a year. This proposal raises a number of concerns:

  • It does not stipulate what criteria will be used to determine the cases where such reviews might be requested, so once the powers are granted they could be extended to thousands of cases.
  • Many people reach ‘clean break’ agreements in family courts. However, after 12 months CMS will disregard these if an application for an assessment of Child Maintenance is made. We don’t think such carefully reached agreements should be overturned in this was and as long as that is in place, consider these additional powers to be draconian and one-sided.
  • The data obtained will be used for the evaluation of income from notional assets which under changes introduced in December 2018 assumes an unrealistic 8% return for calculating Child Maintenance. 
  • CMS and CSA have a history of getting things wrong and forcing a sale of someone’s house is a major thing to do if it turns out that the assessment was incorrect.
  • These 300 cases a year will drain energy into high net worth cases rather than putting resources into enabling the vast majority of separated parents to better support their children.
  • The proposals seek to strengthen enforcement of payments using an unfair formula, not least in relation to shared parenting. In situations where care of children is more-or-less equal, one parent is still required to pay maintenance, irrespective of each parent’s income. Reductions in assessments make a 1/7 reduction for each night a child spends with the paying parent. A fair assessment would make a reduction of 2/7 per night so that 50/50 care meant that neither parent is assessed for any Child Maintenance as they both take equal care of their children. We cannot support further enforcement of a formula that is so fundamentally wrong.

Please submit your individual response to the consultation by Monday 11th February 2019 at 2 pm.

Responses may be sent by email to policy.development@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

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  • People on Universal Credit and other benefits, who do not live with their children, don't just struggle with rent but also with making Child Maintenance (CM) payments. When that happens the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) puts them into their 'Collect and Pay' service for which they are then surcharged by 20% by the government. A kind of 'pay-day loan' surcharge that mostly affects the poorest parents. Not surprisingly they then find it even more difficult to pay their CM and develop arrears. CM payments are not even taken into account in calculations of UC, hence ensuring that many remain below the poverty line and that increased income does not increase their take-home pay - precisely what UC was supposed to put an end to. It also makes their ex-partners angry that they are not receiving the CM that they have been told by CMS is their entitlement adding to their already stressed lives. UC and the benefits system need to look at the specific issues of separated parents to help solve the problems of families on low incomes rathe than compound them. Do tell your MP about this and ask him/her to seek a government response. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/06/call-for-universal-credit-overhaul-amid-fears-of-looming-evictions-crisis Please support us by sharing this, liking it, following us on Facebook, registering with us for free on our website, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • The Guardian/Observer are seeking views on issues men face today, on masculinity, etc in the context of #MeToo. We thought you might wish to share your views with them and the stories you would like to see them cover. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/31/tell-us-about-the-issues-men-face-today To support FNF please like our posts, follow us, register on our website for free, make a donation or join and become a member.
  • Tracey Crouch MP for Chatham and Aylesford leads a Westminster debate today on supporting fathers in early years. We welcome this. Countries that support fathers, not least through much better paternity leave policies, also have greater involvement of dads with their children whether together or apart. Their society as a whole values them more. Fewer need to go to court. Children grow up healthier... and so do the adults. We will attend the debate this morning. https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/social-affairs/children-and-young-people/house/house-magazine/101416/tracey-crouch-we-need Please support FNF by liking this, sharing it, following us, registering for free, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • Good to see Esther Rantzen redressing the balance. We should not be tarring all men with the same brush or assuming that all or even most women are relative angels. Power can be abused. In family courts it often is. Stereotyping is unhelpful to finding solutions for separated parents - it creates the conditions of such abuse to the detriment of the children, their dads and, in the final analysis, mums too. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/esther-rantzen-hits-out-at-the-gillette-metoo-ad-saying-it-tars-all-men-with-same-brush-a4041186.html To support FNF please like this, share it, follow us, register for free, make a donation or become a member.
  • A leave to remove case that has gone terribly wrong and the child has been abducted. There is risk of harm if identified and almost certain harm from losing a father. Furthermore, it seems unlikely appeasement will work and doing nothing will certainly not deter others from such damaging action. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6593333/Ukrainian-wife-millionaire-Russian-flees-London-mansion-two-young-children.html Please support FNF by liking this post, sharing it, following us, registering for free on our website, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • A Whitehall source said that Rudd wanted “universal credit to receive a fresh parliamentary mandate and be personally sure the system is working in the interests of every claimant”. Let's hope that the "every claimant" bit means that they will ensure that Universal Credit takes into account Child Maintenance payments made by those in receipt of state benefits. Too many are now asked to make unaffordable payments and are driven to despair. If you are affected by this, ask your MP to raise with Amber Rudd and please let us know how you get on on admin@fnf.org.uk. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/05/amber-rudd-to-delay-universal-credit-roll-out-pilot-study Please support our work by sharing this post, liking our page, registering for free, becoming a member or making a donation online.

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Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel

 

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