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Treatment of Child Maintenance lump sum

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Disability Law Service, London

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I’m going round and round in circles.  I know child maintenance is disregarded as income but what if a client receives £21,000 lump sum representing 17 years of unpaid child maintenance?  UC are ignoring this as capital for 12 months but CPAG states ” arrears of regular child support maintenance should be treated as income for a past period. Arrears are ignored as income if, for HB, they cover a period since 27 October 2008 or, for other benefits, since 12 April 2010”.


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Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

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Hi Jo.

I’d say any part of it paid for a period since 12th April 2010 or 27th October 2008 for HB is ignored.  Based on your quote ‘Arrears are ignored as income…....for other benefits, since 12 April 2010.’  CPAG goes on to say ‘Before that, arrears may mean that you have been overpaid benefit….’

I’d read that to mean that the arrears are only counted as income for periods they are paid pre 12 April 2010 which I assume is when child maintenance was no longer taken into account as income when assessing benefits.  So only a portion of your client’s arrears would fall to be taken into account as income for benefit purposes.  Do you know if they were in receipt of means-tested benefits this would apply to before those dates?

[ Edited: 21 Nov 2023 at 09:27 am by Mairi ]
John Mesher
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Afraid I’ve come to this thread very late. The principle that a lump sum payment of arrears of child support maintenance should be treated as income attributable to the periods to which it would have been attributed if paid at the right time is of course right and should apply to universal credit even though the income payments are not within the meaning of unearned income. So it is also right that, once the period of attribution as income is over, the amount changes into capital, just as amounts saved out of any past income would. But then I struggle to see how the capital could be disregarded for universal credit, as the reference to 12 months appears to suggest. I don’t see how child support maintenance could be regarded as a social security benefit so as to come within para.18 of Sched.10 to the UC Regulations on the disregarding of payments of arrears. And there is no other category that would cover the payment. Given that the amount was £21,000, that raises obvious problems, but it may be that the amount has already been reduced by expenditure that is not to be regarded as a deprivation of capital, e.g. by reducing or paying debts run up during the long period of non-payment.