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.
- 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.
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?
|I DON'T TRUST THEM AT ALL||I DON'T TRUST MOST OF WHAT THEY TELL ME||I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO TRUST THEM OR NOT||I TRUST THEM A LITTLE BIT||I TRUST EVERYTHING THEY TELL ME|
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.
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.
In a Family Law system designed for combative parents there is no real allowance for the views of children and any understanding of how Family Law ultimately impacts on children most of all.
We speak for the children in Family Law so that, finally, the children have a voice.