DWP will make feuding parents pay

Department to charge for use of child maintenance system


The Department for Work and Pensions has indicated that estranged parents using its statutory service for child maintenance will be subject to charges.

The plan is included in a consultation document on the future of the system, which outlines the priorities for the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission as it replaces the Child Support Agency (CSA).

It says a new IT system will be set up to help estranged parents who cannot agree on arrangements to obtain the financial support to which they are entitled in order to support their children. It will review cases annually through links with HM Revenue and Customs' tax systems, obtaining information on incomes to calculate child maintenance.

Parents who fail to reach an agreement between themselves and go through the statutory scheme will be subject to a charge of £100 for the application, with discounts for those on benefits, and £20 to £25 for the calculation. The document is explicit in stating that this will encourage them to reach an agreement.

Chris Pennell, principal analyst with Kable, commented: "This is the first real example of the public sector charging for services, which should encourage some people to come to an informal agreement to avoid being billed for going through the formal process. But it could also provide a model for how changes to a core service could be self-financed."

The DWP document also says that, in return for the fees paid, it will aim to develop a set of customer standards to provide an assurance on the level of service for those who use the full statutory scheme.

It claims that lessons have been learnt from the problems of the current computer systems, which had been developed for the CSA, and that the DWP is taking a lower risk approach to the design of the new systems. There will also be a testing window before the scheme is launched.

The new scheme will be launched in 2012 for new customers while the CSA will be closed to new applications. The document says this will provide a "sensible window" for the systems to be fully tested before the scheme is extended to existing CSA clients. It claims that this will help to avoid the mistakes that were made when reforms and a new computer system were introduced in 2003. Tata Consultancy Services won the deal to replace the CSA systems in 2009.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022