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Welfare Reform Act 2009

Section 55: Child support maintenance: offences relating to information

262.Section 55 amends section 14A of the Child Support Act 1991 (the 1991 Act), which deals with offences relating to the provision of information.

263.Section 14A(3A) of the 1991 Act currently provides that a person commits an offence if he or she fails to notify the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission of a change of address. Section 55(2) inserts a new subsection (3A), which extends this offence to a failure to report other changes of circumstances. These other changes of circumstances will be specified in regulations made under the provisions of section 14(1) of the 1991 Act.

264.Section 14A(2) of the 1991 Act provides that it is an offence for a person to knowingly make a false statement or representation or knowingly provide, or cause or allow to be provided, a document or other information which is false. Section 55(3) inserts new subsections (6) to (8) into section 14A of the 1991 Act, setting the time limit for bringing such a case to 12 months from the date the false information was provided. Currently section 127 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 and section 136 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (in Scotland) limit the time in which a prosecution can be brought to 6 months. The amendment brings the time limits broadly in line with those for benefit fraud, and increases the likelihood of successful prosecutions under section 14A(2) of the 1991 Act due to the increased time in which the offence can be discovered and investigated by the prosecutor.

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