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Child Maintenance Service


We are carrying out a value for money study on whether the child maintenance system is delivering value for money for children, separated parents and the taxpayer. A brief description of the scope of our work can be found here.

To help us with our audit, we would like to hear from you about your experience of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). This consultation will be open until midday, Friday, 30 July 2021.  We are aiming to publish our value for money report towards the end of 2021.


The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government and the civil service. We help Parliament hold government to account and we use our insights to help people who manage and govern public bodies improve public services.

By statute we must perform audits of public sector organisations for Parliament. We audit the financial accounts of departments and other public bodies. We also examine and report on the value for money of how public money has been spent.


The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) CMS administers its 2012 scheme for separated parents who are unable to arrange child maintenance between themselves. The 2012 scheme was introduced to replace the Child Support Agency’s (CSA’s) 1993 and 2003 schemes. All ongoing maintenance arrangements (and remaining CSA cases with unpaid maintenance arrears) are now administered by the CMS.


This value for money study builds on the work we do each year to audit and report on the two sets of financial accounts that DWP produces for its child maintenance schemes. These relate to the 1993 and 2003 schemes and the CMS 2012 scheme.

We have also reported on child maintenance as part of our value for money work in the past. This includes reports on Child Maintenance: closing cases and managing arrears on the 1993 and 2003 schemes and Child maintenance 2012 scheme: Early Progress.