These Regulations make miscellaneous amendments and amendments consequential on the Child Support Fees Regulations 2014 (S.I. 2014/612) (“the Fees Regulations”) to various Child Support Regulations.
Regulation 2 amends the Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/1989) (“the 1992 Regulations”) for the purposes of cases administered under the 2012 scheme of child support. The amendments are consequential on the introduction of charging of collection fees (a fee payable in a case where the Secretary of State arranges for collection of child maintenance) and enforcement fees (a fee payable where the Secretary of State takes enforcement action) under the Fees Regulations.
A new definition of “fee” is inserted into the 1992 Regulations, which means a collection fee or an enforcement fee payable under the Fees Regulations. Regulation 3 of the 1992 Regulations is amended so that the Secretary of State may require a person liable to pay child maintenance and fees (“the liable person”) to take reasonable steps to open an account from which payments of child maintenance and collection fees can be made. Regulation 3 is further amended so that, when the Secretary of State is considering specifying a deduction from earnings order as the method of payment, it is not relevant that a third party would become aware, or that the liable person prefers that their employer would not be informed, of that person’s liability to pay a fee or the amount of the fee payable. Regulation 4 is amended so that the Secretary of State may schedule payments of collection fees in the same way that child maintenance is scheduled.
Regulation 7 is amended so that when a maintenance calculation is made the Secretary of State must send the liable person a notice stating, in relation to child maintenance and any collection fees: the amount payable, to whom payments are to be made, the method of payment, the day and interval by reference to which payments are to be made and the amount of any overdue child maintenance or collection fees. Provision is also made so that when an enforcement fee becomes payable the liable person must be sent a notice stating the amount of the enforcement fee payable and the enforcement action in respect of which it is payable. In both scenarios, the notice must be sent as soon as is reasonably practicable.
The Secretary of State will, when necessary, use existing methods of enforcement to recover fees. Paragraphs (7), (8)(b), (9) and (10) of regulation 2 make amendments to provisions relating to enforcement so that, where relevant, reference is also made to fees. Paragraph (8)(a) and (c) amends regulation 20 so that a deduction from earnings order may be discharged where the Secretary of State agrees an alternative method of payment of fees and child maintenance with the liable person and considers that discharging the order is reasonable.
Regulation 3 makes technical amendments to regulation 27A of the Child Support (Maintenance Assessments and Special Cases) Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/1815) which are consequential on an amendment made to the Children Act 1989 (c.41) by section 8 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (c.23). Regulation 5 makes analogous amendments to the Child Support (Maintenance Calculations and Special Cases) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2001/155). Regulation 4 makes a clarificatory amendment to the Child Support Departure Direction and Consequential Amendments Regulations 1996 (S.I. 1996/2907).
Regulation 6 amends the Child Support (Management of Payment and Arrears) Regulations 2009 (S.I. 2009/3151) for the purposes of 2012 scheme cases. A new regulation 3A is inserted which provides that, in a case where there are arrangements for direct pay or collection (but not enforcement) and the non-resident parent fails to make a payment of child maintenance, the Secretary of State may make arrangements for collection or enforcement if the non-resident parent has been given a notice during the previous 12 months setting out that the Secretary of State would consider taking such action. If that notice has not been given, notice must be given to the non-resident parent in accordance with regulation 3 before the Secretary of State may make arrangements for collection or enforcement. Regulation 6 also amends regulation 11 to enable the Secretary of State to recover collection fees from a deceased person’s estate.
Regulation 7 amends the Child Support Maintenance Calculation Regulations 2012 (S.I. 2012/2677). Regulation 11 is amended so that the Secretary of State must send a notice under regulation 11 where: an application has been made; the address of the non-resident parent has been ascertained and verified; and any application fee payable under the Fees Regulations has been paid or waived. The notice must normally be sent as soon as is reasonably practicable, unless the provisions for cases affected by the Child Support (Ending Liability in Existing Cases and Transition to New Calculation Rules) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 2014/614) apply. Regulation 12 is amended so that the initial effective date is the date provided in the notice given under regulation 11. Notice of that date must be given to the non-resident parent either by written notice posted at least two days before the initial effective date or by phone on or before that date and by post.
Regulation 14 is amended so that a new paragraph (3A) is inserted to provide for certain decisions to be revised at any time.
Regulation 8 amends the Child Support (Ending Liability in Existing Cases and Transition to New Calculation Rules) Regulations 2014. Regulation 8(2) makes a technical amendment to the definition of “transition period” in those Regulations. Regulation 8(3) amends regulation 6 of those Regulations, which provides for the date on which liability under a maintenance calculation or assessment ceases to accrue for the purposes of Schedule 5 to the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 (c.6) (“the liability end date”). Regulation 6(1)(a) is amended so that, in a case that is linked to an application made under section 4(1) or 7(1) of the Child Support Act 1991 (c.48), the liability end date will be the date specified by the Secretary of State in the notice which must be at least 30 days after notice is given. Regulation 8(3)(b) makes a similar amendment in relation to cases that become related to an application made under section 4(1) or 7(1).
A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument as it has no impact on the private sector and civil society organisations.
The SI is available to download here