Child Maintenance Service Satisfaction Survey 2017

The Child Maintenance Service is designed to work on the basis of an application from a receiving parent which they action against a paying parent or parents.

  1. To our minds this makes the Receiving Parent the target audience and ultimately the customer of the Child Maintenance Service and on this basis we surveyed Receiving Parents for their views on the service that they are receiving from the CMS. We specifically excluded Paying Parents who, anecdotally, seem to have a poor or extremely poor perception of the CMS already.

The survey was conducted in September 2017 and managed through an anonymous survey tool hosted by SurveyMonkey.

The results:

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the loyalty that exists between a provider and a consumer. The provider can be a company, employer or any other entity. The provider is the entity that is asking the questions on the NPS survey. The consumer is the customer, employee, or respondent to an NPS survey.

The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale.
Link to wikipedia explanation

In our survey: 92% of respondents were detractors, 4% of respondents were Passives, 4% of respondents were Promoters, which gives an NPS score of -89 against a global benchmark NPS of 40. This puts the CMS firmly in the bottom 25% of over 115,000 global service organisations surveyed in 2017.

How would you rate the CMS for their service?


83.91% of Receiving Parents we surveyed rated the service provided by the CMS as “Terrible” or “Poor”. This is a heavy indictment from the CMS’s target audience that the service they are providing is simply not good enough.


How would you rate the CMS for their calculations?


A lot has been made about fictitious arrears and the inability of the CMS to perform simple calculations using the new simplified formula of the 2012 scheme.

A common defence from the DWP and the CMS has always been that it is non-compliant Paying Parents who are raising the idea of fictitious arrears and incorrect calculations as a means to deflect attention from their non-compliance, and yet we see from our survey data from Receiving Parents that they too (and in large numbers) don’t rate the ability of the CMS to perform basic calculations.

In fact 65.52% of Receiving Parents we surveyed rate them as “Terrible” or “Poor”.


How would you rate the CMS for their management of arrears?


90.8% of Receiving Parents we surveyed rated the management of arrears as either “Terrible” or “Poor”.

You only have to visit the many Facebook groups set up to discuss the CMS arrears and how poorly they perform or communicate to parents about arrears to see that this is one of the core issues impacting on parents and children across the country.

Our own research shows that, contrary to promises made when the CSA became the CMS, arrears are in fact rising, and there is no sign of this changing anytime soon. The CMS Leadership claims that this is because they do not have enough enforcement powers, but our research shows that they do in fact have the necessary powers, they’re quite simply unable to enforce arrears that they themselves cannot prove.

Hiding behind Select Committees and continuing to incentivise Receiving Parents and Paying Parents to argue with each other is not a solution and only serves to cause co-parenting agreements to break down.


How would you rate the CMS for their management of your case?


86.21% of Receiving Parents we surveyed rated the management of their CMS case as either “Terrible” or “Poor”.

By this point you the reader cannot be surprised by this. In any organisation where service levels are poor, arrears and basic calculations are incorrectly calculated, and parents are encouraged by the organisation to victimise each other, it should come as no shock that the core consumers of that organisation are so unhappy with how their cases are managed.


How much do you trust the CMS?


The final nail in the coffin of the CMS is this data from our survey. 78.16% of of Receiving Parents we surveyed simply do not trust the CMS. It is extremely worrying to see that over 45% do not trust them at all , 32% don’t trust most of what they’re told, whilst a further 16% do not know whether to trust them or not…



In November 2013, the then Minister for the Department of Work and Pensions Steve Webb announced the successful launch of the Child Maintenance Service as a replacement for the Child Support Agency by saying:


  • We are reforming the child maintenance system to help more parents come to their own arrangements. Children tend to fare better in life when their parents have a positive relationship and work together.


  • All parents applying for help with child maintenance will get free information and support from Child Maintenance Options first to help them work together. The Child Maintenance Service will be there for those who cannot, and will provide a better service than the current CSA.


  • We have learned from the mistakes of the past and are introducing these reforms gradually, using a phased approach.


  • The new Child Maintenance Service, using HM Revenue & Customs data, will be able to process applications and make payments more quickly than the current CSA, preventing the build-up of arrears. It will review the financial circumstances of the parent paying maintenance annually to ensure levels of payment are fair, accurate and up-to-date. For those that choose not to pay, more effective enforcement action will be taken.


  • The new Child Maintenance Service will act as backstop for parents who cannot work things out between themselves, and will provide a faster, more efficient service than the current CSA schemes.

The only statement we would support in the Minister’s speech is his first: “Children tend to fare better in life when their parents have a positive relationship and work together“.

It is a shame that this is no longer a priority for the CMS especially considering the anecdotal evidence that continues to pour into our emails about the CMS and DWP trying to encourage Universal Credit recipients to open cases with the CMS. That and the CMS Options strategy of contacting users who haven’t opened cases to “encourage” them to open them. Shameful.

Beyond that it is obvious that the rest of the Minister’s statements bear no relation to the reality that parents, both Receiving Parents and Paying Parents, are now experiencing at the hands of a government department struggling and overwhelmed by its own bureaucracy.

Simply changing the name over the door whilst largely retaining the same employees and culture has just engendered more of the same.

That’s why we believe it is again time for a wholesale reform of the child maintenance system in this country starting with the wholesale removal of the current leadership of the CMS.

Children are bearing the brunt of this nonsense and it is time for it to stop.


Next Steps:

We will be sharing the results and conclusions from this survey with the Child Maintenance Service, our local MPs, the government Ministers responsible for the operation of the CMS, and the CMS Leaderships team especially Tom McCormack and Marc Gill who are ultimately responsible for the quality of service delivery and for arrears enforcement.

If you are unhappy with the CMS you must complain and you must complain formally. Include your MP and ask them to help you get the CMS to deal with your case effectively, speedily, and accurately.


Future Surveys on the Child Maintenance Service:

We plan to run this survey annually to compare results year to year.

Register via our newsletter to be invited to take part in future surveys and to have your opinions and experiences reflected in our surveys and research.

  1. Stuart Kelly on 20th September 2017 at 8:52 PM

    And the ice complaints are just as bad same company gets you no where

  2. Leanne monaghan on 21st September 2017 at 6:22 AM

    Cms should be scrapped terrible service they don’t consider what the father can afford and poor guys are left indept no money

  3. Elizabeth Commons on 21st September 2017 at 9:24 PM

    There rules so not apply to self employed millonares in the Commonwealth of KY .the poor women suffer the heck with the mom busting her tail .KY cares less .it’s called the good ole boy net work round here .

  4. Mike Oxlong on 24th September 2017 at 2:51 PM

    If an NRP is prepared to pay regular(weekly) maintenance payments direct to the PWC the CMS should not be involved. If the NRP will not pay courts should be the solution. Maintenance payments should not be calculated against salary. Child benefit is not? Maintenance payments should go direct to the child on a payment card that way the money is guaranteed to be spent on your child and not to subsidise the PWC earnings to be spent at the local nail bar/ nightclub. The CMS are clueless and do not know there own highly complex legislation and result to lying to rectify this both to NRP & PWC. In a nutshell mine and others taxpayers money is been spent on these incompetent buffoons salary to persecute NRP and mismanage the individual cases.

  5. M Defoe on 17th May 2018 at 9:42 PM

    I am a paying parent and the CMS are negligent and incompetent. They do no justice to either the paying parent or the receiving parent even though they collect fees for their service. They hide behind statutory powers believing they are right and instead of using common sense they blanket themselves in standard replies and responses that do not address individual cases. They are not fit to run a government body.

  6. Stewart r scott on 28th May 2018 at 12:08 PM

    Went for a DNA 3 years ago she didn’t turn up I had the case closed including the ridicules 6,000 pound arears which were built up while I wasn’t working can’t pay what you don’t have,then 6 weeks ago she’s decided I’m the dad again another huge arears bill which I’m not and never will pay they want 140 quid a month absolutely disgusted with the service how they can allow someone just to keep making claims against me and sending me messages this will pay my holiday with a 600 quid bonus,they can take me to court send me to prison I am very stubborn I will leave my job I pay enough tax a week she receives money she works doesnt need my help if the lad is mine and he’s nearly 18 and still I’m getting bullied into giving up my hard earn money the law isn’t an ass.

  7. Lesley peters on 27th July 2018 at 4:32 PM

    Csa should be abolished it’s true you go after the father who pays and wonted to see their children but mothers have the last say who can see their kids even if they have an arrangement made between to consenting adults that is what my daughter in law did she made an agreement then went back on it my son is a great father and pays every month for his kids men have taken their lives because you have left them nothing no kids no money

  8. Joe on 27th September 2018 at 8:37 AM

    Odd how the survey excluded paying parent when infact they are the client having to use the service to establish a payment plan. The receiving parent has very little use of cms service, all they do is watch the payments roll in. The cms are at best incompetent. Gave them proof of earnings and they managed to get this mixed up with someone earning 820% more than i was within 24hrs ! Took them a 3 months to put it right. Disgraceful dept. In any other industry these people would be sacked on the spot for gross misconduct and unable to perform efficiently the role they are paid to do. Needs a total overhaul by soneone who is actually capable of running the organisation.

  9. Mr Edwards on 23rd November 2018 at 5:54 PM

    Incompetent, lying unhelpful, no real grasp of what pressures and complications they cause !
    What a shameless bunch of total misleading unscrupulous wasters !
    You can’t and won’t get any satisfaction or result from anybody that is on the other end of the phone, they have totally messed up what was going so well for me with my DEO, and it’s clear they are only a debt collection agency.
    Hold your heads in shame, your organisation leaves a lot to be desired.

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