CMS “Collect and Pay” targets and leadership performance meetings

Voice of the Child has obtained copies of the minutes from the last 20 Operational Leadership Team (OLT) meetings in relation to the Child Maintenance Group. These meetings occur weekly and involve the following individuals:

Tom Mccormack – The failing, incompetent Director of the CMG for the DWP

Jenny Stewart – Delivery Support Director

Arlene Sugden – CSA Director

Margaret Moor – Applications and Maintenance Director

Interestingly, Stewart Richards (Arrears and Enforcement Director) does not appear to attend these meetings (or his name has been wrongly redacted out of the minutes).

The meetings focus on 3 topics:

  1. Performance
  2. People
  3. Change

They make interesting reading and confirm much of what we suspected. The Child Maintenance Group and the CMS are “managed” by a herd of incompetents. Every one of the topics above has a range of issues that make us wonder why on earth the Government continues with this farce of an organisation in favour of total root to branch reform.

In this piece we’ll focus on some elements of the “Performance” meetings highlighting some of the more interesting (shocking) revelations contained therein. You will be able to download and read the unaltered files by following the links at the bottom of the page. We will cover the other meetings in subsequent pieces.

The general theme in the performance meetings is one of an organisation that is drowning in its own incompetence. We suspect this will not come as news to many of the people reading this as we have been contacted by hundreds of people who are dissatisfied with the way that their affairs have been handled by the CMS.

We can see from the 21st June 2018 meeting that the CMG (Child Maintenance Group) started the year with a budget of £178.8m (which was subsequently reduced to £173.3m). This was followed by a statement around resourcing and we can see that the CMS does not have enough money to pay its staff to work any overtime from December of last year.


Tom (Mccormack) asked from a financial perspective how we start planning for the FTE shortfall which exists from the end of the calendar year and when the right time is to start thinking about it as there isn’t money for overtime from December onwards


They go on to identify areas where they can cut costs:


There was then a discussion around where CMG can reduce the forecast and [redacted] identified 2 areas – reimbursements and arrears strategy…..there is a risk around how we support increased estate costs (this is DWP wide).


CMS appears to be under a lot of financial strain which is ironic as that is exactly what their incompetence does to the households of paying and receiving parents alike.

In the same meeting, the comment is made that their systems are “feeling more stable. An interesting phrase as we would suggest that something is either “stable” or “unstable”. CMS computer systems continue to be unstable.

The comment is then made that they are


getting an “accelerated growth of switchers from direct pay to collect and pay.


Obviously, if a case is on collect and pay then the CMS is taking a “fee” of 24% for the privilege of having the entire maintenance case being run through their unstable computer system. A fee that no doubt helps alleviate their budgetary pressure. More on this shortly…

Moving on to the July 2018 meeting provides some further interesting insight.

The Government claims that the CMS fees are there to “encourage family based arrangements” and various ministers have also stated that the the family based arrangement (ie. an arrangement without the involvement of the CMS) is the preferable option. Essentially, the Government would like to see everyone with a family based arrangement and not have to spend over £170m running the headache that’s the CMS.

It was surprising then to see the following statement in the Minutes


CMS has broken the half a million children milestone – need to celebrate [redacted] to do this


We would view the fact that 500,000 children are now exposed to this horrendous inefficient shambles as an abject failure and, far from celebrating the government should be looking seriously at the “incentives” they claim exist to promote family based arrangements as well as the barriers to doing so.

We’ve had a flood of people contact us to tell us that their cases have been forced onto the “collect and pay” (fee charging) service leading some to speculate that it’s part of the performance criteria to get people onto this more expensive system. This does not help either parent as the receiving parent gets charged 4% of the maintenance they would have been due and the paying parent has to find 20% more to use the “collect and pay” service type.

For example, we were contacted by one parent who we will call Donna (not her real name) who explained the following:


My ex had a short term cash flow problem so was not able to pay the full amount one month. The CMS put him onto collect and pay and have refused to take him off. Our relationship has suffered as a result as he blames me for having to find 20% extra and I’m not getting as much as I was before because of the charges. It’s been horrible.

“Donna”, receiving parent


The change to “collect and pay” is what is called a discretionary decision and the CMS is obliged by law (Section 2 of the Child Support Act 1991) to consider the welfare of all children who may be affected by the decision. It’s not something that should be automatic and suggests a failure of either the calculation itself (which we know to be faulty for several reasons – DWP have acknowledged this), the administrative process undertaken by the CMS, or a combination of the two factors.

Each time someone is moved from direct pay to collect and pay the decision to change must be made taking into account the particular circumstances specific to the individual case taking into account welfare of the children, reasons for non/under payment and any other relevant factors.

For the CMS leadership team to say


should be working on a one strike and then change policy


seems to ignore the circumstances of the case or indeed the legal requirement to conduct a welfare analysis and therefore the children…

It appears to get worse…


Tom (Mccormack) queried the DP/CP (Direct Pay/Collect and Pay) figures and whether we would get to the 65%/35% split by March 19


Readers should note that this seems to suggest that Mr Mccormack has a target to get 35% of the cases onto the collect and pay payment type by March 2019 (the financial year end).

Looking at the statistics for the CMS available online here, it would appear that the total open cases in March 2018 was 415,000 with 138,100 on the “collect and pay” payment type. This equates to 33% of the total case load at that time. Moving to June 2018 (as figures are published quarterly) we can see the total case load has increased to 433,800 with 148,000 (34% of the total) on “collect and pay”. Both of these are below the 35% target implied by Mccormack’s minuted statement.

This is scandalous and totally contradicts any assertion that the Child Maintenance service is there to promote family based arrangements. In fact, they are trying to get people onto the payment type which gives the DWP some income and perhaps can fill their funding gap to provide overtime hours for their staff; a far cry from keeping child welfare at the centre of their decisions.

Has your case been a victim of this target driven culture? We would like to hear from you. Please leave comments below.


You can read the full files here:

Performance OLT 20 september 2018

Performance OLT Minutes 18 October 2018

Performance OLT Minutes 19 july 2018

Performance OLT Minutes 21 june 2018

Performance OLT Minutes 23 november 2018

Performance OLT Minutes 24 may 2018

  1. Jeremy Elliott on 3rd February 2019 at 10:18 AM

    Was put on DoE originally as they failed to send out my Ex’s bank details (proven in the SAR they sent me) but claimed they had. Did 6 months and asked to be moved to collect and pay, surprise surprise they failed to send out their own bank details and so i am back on DoE. Fortunately managed to keep the amount they take down to a point where my family and i can survive amd keep a roof over our heads but thanks to arrears caused by them still paying more than i should be amd have no way of saving for anything.

  2. Mark Townhill on 3rd February 2019 at 5:17 PM

    What an utter shambles. It is evident how corrupt they are. It is now time that this not fit for purpose organisation us put to rest completely wiped out forth with. We need to rise against these corrupt incompetent individuals end of

  3. Jem on 3rd February 2019 at 7:31 PM

    My partner has been paying DEO for 18 months, the case was closed back when it was the csa over 6 years ago, to then find now it’s started again he somehow owes £12k in arrears!! They know full well after many income and expenditure forms there leaving us in minus figures each month, we have a baby to support who’s welfare is being put at risk, they do not care, its the most discriminatory company I’ve ever known, the levels of maladministration are horrendous!

  4. Andy on 3rd February 2019 at 8:11 PM

    This just shows the Incompetant and embarrassment of the CMS.There is more in hous fighting than on the outside…
    I do however like the statement about overtime payments..if they don’t do any the salary is effected (shame)try living with a salary deficit taken every month and over charged for the incompetence..
    The inaccuracy and wrong calculations with the initial telephone contact of idiots of the CMS to fob you off on first call..
    I also read the lengths the CMS go to ignore basic information then refuse to accept multiple mis calculations that end up in misery for the NRP.
    Should be disbanded due to embarrassment at tax payers money.

    This seems the same throughout the DWP and all Government departments…over paid idiots claiming expenses for them selves so who are the real thieves?

  5. Pete on 5th February 2019 at 8:11 AM

    Yes I was put on collect and pay even though they had told me and given me the NRP bank details to pay direct as she had requested ,so that’s what I did I paid direct for 3 years solid ,at which point they informed me it was a clerical error on their behalf and that I know owe them the collect and pay fees £600 there about ….. let that sink in a minute … their mistake so I need to still pay their fees !!! I’ve told them to take me to court as I will never pay those fees as you did not provide a service for ,and be rest assured I will go to prison before I pay ( in fact I will never pay that fee ) informed my local MP ( waste of space ) and to this date I’ve not paid the fee … this is 8 months on now .

  6. Gemma on 6th February 2019 at 8:12 AM

    My partner got put on deo with no notification beforehand and not offered chance of to agree a payment type. His ex took him to cms because his eldest started work full time so he halved his maintenance. They now want triple the amount he was paying for 2 children just for 1 child. They won’t listen or look at any evidence he sends in and they believe her lies with no proof. He was paying direct pay but because she wasn’t happy they changed it to deo. Not a godd enough reason in my eyes! They are a complete and utter joke. No wonder so many complaints are being written.

  7. John on 6th February 2019 at 5:29 PM

    I was put on doe despite paying more than i should of for a period of nearly 4 years without cms involvement. My ex reported me to them the week i got married last May. CMS told me to stop paying while they did their calculations, which i did. They then came back with a figure based on my last 6 weeks earnings which was totally unrealistic. My employers owed me unpaid bonuses and ot which was added on top of other ot making it look (for a few weeks) that i was earning a lot more than i actually was. I believe, according to their figures, i would of had to work 8 days a week every week to earn what they were claiming.

    Fast forward several months and im currently paying £116 a week to cms. If i work 5 days a week i earn £700 gross. I have to undertake a journey of over 500 miles to see my son every two weeks. I also have to pay £70ph contact centre fees and have spent around 10k in legal fees since August. I also have a 2 year old son that lives with me and my wife. I went to 4 days a week working (contracted hours). I sent the required payslips to cms to prove the change in circumstances in August. I heard nothing for weeks despite ringing every week and i was even told before xmas that i coild expect a cheque in the post! Then in January i received a call and letter to say that the adjustment had been rejected as i had gone back to 5 days a week! 5 months to reply!! Obviously i had no choice to go back to 5 days a week as i was paying maintenance based on a 7-9 day working week (physically impossible and highly illegal). I have had to spend several hundred pounds on extra training to get my wage up to the level they say it is. I have managed to increase my income by 40 pounds a day and i still am not earning what they originally said i was!

  8. Carl on 24th March 2019 at 8:44 AM

    After over paying for 12 months and arrears of £400 they decided the arrears was £1600 and all my proof was ignored they attached a DEO on me £649 p/m for one child. My new born son has never been added to the case 7 months on now, my arrears have gone up to £2300 my payment is supposed to be £348, after 7 months on DEO Asked to go back onto direct pay to be told no. My MP is not any help along with the C advice. Feel like an act of fraud is taking place and there’s nothing you can do about it as it’s all government based.

  9. Jules man on 24th March 2019 at 5:45 PM

    I have just last month caught the CMS confirming that as I had been paying direct to the resident parent that they do not check if money is paid , so their words were as such ” we automatically add the year as arrears ” they were recorded and I have lodged formal complaints to dwp, CMS ,Tom McCormack,Al the papers and authorities. They confirmed that they automatically make non resident parents go into arrears due to their own mistake. How can they get away with this ,I recorded them date time and name and they got upset . Also I have recorded them agreeing to fictitious arrears payment plan and 1.5 years later they go back on this busted I recorded them and have all the calls saved to a server and have now got the full transcripts ready . Also now confirmed they added DEO that i paid and added that as arrears again promoting fictitious arrears. So I have sent recorded letters to all parties , and emails sent as well and I have asked them why did the resident parent not advise you 6 months ago of court order changes,which they refused to answer , if I hadn’t had paid I am sure the resident parent would have kicked off ,oh they did as I was ,£ 7 short due to a banking error ,so I have told them get me into the court room I will show all the evidence and let’s go from there . They hide behind their desks ,they are incompetent minions , they should all be out up against a wall and shot , they do not promote family based agreements and do you know how I know. . go I to job centre ,at end of meeting you will get a letter from dwp advising you to go with them and to cancel all family based agreements and for the CMS to screw the non resident parent and make them homeless due to fictitious arrears so as to make Tom McCormack and his bunch of cronies look good . Got the proof , yeah rite promote family based agreements not!!! you promote families to fight against each other , you promote homelessness, you promote collect and pay so you can pay your on incompetent minions who did not even know the CMS handbook, you promote children to be fatherless by making resident parents stoping contact with the other parent so as to allow the resident parent to have more money ,you promote suicides , you have messed it up so much that the government has had to ask all the media outlets to stop advertising the failure of the system as it shows how corrupted the system is . The system does not work , the system should be safe to use and fair , no it’s a complete waste of time and needs to be advertised on every social media outlet and you tube .

  10. Robert on 28th July 2019 at 1:43 PM

    My ex partner (the vindictive mother) deny access to my two children. The court order was put in place, i have had kids in my care every fortnight therefore i was entiteled 52day of sheare care and discount. In 2018 my ex destroyed and icelated kids of me totaly, she embroiled them brainwashed them, claiming that i have caused them significant harm and the contact was stopped. I have filled the application to enforse the court order in january, didn’t see kids for one year as i could afford it and guess what? Cafcass and section 7 is in place + new court order saying that i am not allowed to have any direct or indirect contact with the children. My ex phoned CSA and told them that i dont have any contact with kids! CSA set new payment. I pay £460 p/m! A £140 more! Changed my job do to depression and my wage went 25% down and csa reduced it only 30 quid. I have my personal loan to pay as the property is for the children, both have one room each and i have other comitments to pay on low monthly budget. Since february we went to the court twice, it is end of july and cafcass officer failed to file report to the court. Last week it was final court hearing and my ex failed to attend! One day b4 the final court hearing i have had the 1st time interim session contact with kids arranged by caffcas woman, (she had 2 months to arrange that), it was booked last minute, 12 hours b4 dead line! However, sitting in front of the judges on my own, got even more bad news! The judge told me that due to cafcass not fileing reports on time and me not completed all 4sessions with kids, (not my fault), the court can not make the final decission! They delayed final court on October! That moment my jaw dropped down on the floor like concrete block! I was asking court to have 4days on and 4days off kids in my care so i could call CSA to tell them to reduce payments but have to wait another two months! Now i am facing bankrupcy next months if i dont get my kids back, will need to sell property and pay my dets caused by my ex! By the way i was representing my self in the court and my ex used child payments to pay her solicitor! And worst things happened since, false alligations of harrasment by my ex etc. All those facts refered to the courts by me have been changed by this joke bob the builder can we fix it cafcass officer and those innocent children used by my ex as ammunition are still locked in their mothers ‘house prison’ not alloud to see their father for no reason because he tried to do right thing. Aparantly the agency is protecting children from harm LMAO! NO, the ‘the mother is protected by cafcass, the police, authorities what ever you want to call them! Another joke! No kids are abused with agences, waiting to see their father for 6 months since the court order was enforced! I will call it ‘going in circles and never ending story’! I shouldnt bother to request mediation in 2016 to avoid depression. In my experiance, no matter what way you do it, legaly with the law or kicking your ex door shouting give me my kids is the same thing! Its called chain reaction! CSA shouldn’t calculate payments from gross! Not everyone has spare three grand in their pocket! Thanks for reading. Welcome all your comments …

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