Section 16: Changes to the calculation of maintenance
112.This section introduces Schedule 4 which amends legislation regarding how maintenance calculations are performed. Changes to how maintenance is calculated include:
A move from using net to using gross weekly income to determine maintenance liability. Information required to calculate maintenance will be taken directly from HMRC instead of the non-resident parent.
Changes to the percentages used to calculate basic rate maintenance.
Treating certain existing child support maintenance obligations which fall outside of the statutory scheme, as though they were within the scheme, for the purposes of calculating liability.
An increase in flat rate maintenance from £5 to £7 per week.
Section 17: Power to regulate supersession
113.This section replaces subsections 17(2) and 17(3) of the Child Support Act 1991. Section 17 allows a maintenance decision to be superseded by a new decision, where, for example, there has been a change of circumstances.
114.These changes provide a regulation-making power to Secretary of State in relation to the supersession of decisions.
115.New subsection (3) sets out that regulations may include:
Provision about the cases and circumstances in which a decision may be superseded, which may include a restriction on superseding a decision as a result of certain changes of circumstance. This change enables the introduction of fixed term annual awards, where a change in circumstance will only be actioned during the year if there has been a large change in income, or where the change is fundamental to the maintenance calculation. This will also enable regulations to contain provisions which set out the circumstances in which earlier changes of circumstances (which had not led to a supersession) can be taken into account.
Procedural aspects of supersessions.
Section 18: Determination of applications for a variation
116.Section 18 inserts two new subsections (2A) and (2B) into section 28D of the Child Support Act 1991, which concerns the varying of a maintenance calculation.
117.New subsections (2A) and (2B) require the Commission, on receipt of an application from a person with care (or, in Scotland, a child of 12 or over) to vary a maintenance calculation, to consider any information or evidence that is available to it or take steps to obtain further information or evidence, if it appears that further information would affect a decision to vary a maintenance calculation.
Section 19: Transfer of cases to new rules
118.This section introduces Schedule 5 which makes provision for the movement of existing cases onto the new calculation rules. The Commission may require the parties in existing cases to choose whether to remain in the statutory scheme under the new calculation rules or to leave the scheme as far as future liability is concerned.