A government-backed Bill ensuring victims of domestic abuse can receive financial support for their children without contact from their abuser has been approved by Parliament.
The new law will allow the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to intervene on behalf of parents where abuse is evident, using its powers to collect and make payments.
This set-up, called Collect and Pay, is already used by 37% of parents using the CMS. It provides extra protections for parents who have experienced domestic abuse by avoiding the need for contact and preventing perpetrators from inflicting financial abuse and control.
Recent news from the Home Office revealed the announcement of a £39 million package of new measures aiming to “weed out” domestic abuse and stalking across England and Wales.
This showed that 50 projects will be rolled out over the next two years with the intention of stopping abusers from repeatedly targeting victims and terrorising vulnerable people.
Commenting on the new bill, Work and Pensions Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie said:
“Domestic abuse and coercive control are abhorrent crimes. This positive change will enhance our existing support for domestic abuse victims and ensure they can make a child maintenance claim without the fear of having to deal with an abusive ex-partner.”
The Child Support Collection (Domestic Abuse) Bill will gain Royal Assent in the coming weeks after successfully passing both Houses of Parliament. It will build on the CMS’s existing procedures to protect both paying and receiving parents who are vulnerable to domestic abuse, ensuring more children in separated families are supported.
The Private Members’ Bill was taken through Parliament by Sally-Ann Hart MP and Lord Farmer, with support from the Government.
The change comes following recommendations by a leading expert on domestic abuse, Dr Samantha Callan, who led an independent review into the CMS’s support for victims.
Dr Samantha Callan said:
“I am heartened that the Government have so quickly legislated to strengthen support for parents experiencing domestic abuse following my Review. This extra layer of protection for both parents and children was an important one of my recommendations to build on the CMS’s substantial reform in this area.”
Another government-backed Bill – the Child Support (Enforcement) Bill – which is soon also to become law, will simplify the court process of recouping child maintenance arrears, while continuing to protect paying parents’ appeal rights. This change in this Bill will make it easier and quicker for the CMS to take enforcement action and recoup money owed to families.
The new law will build on the CMS’s existing procedures to protect both paying and receiving parents who are vulnerable to domestic abuse, ensuring more children in separated families are supported. The Bill was taken through Parliament by Sally-Ann Hart MP and Lord Farmer, with support from the Government.