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Child Support Agency

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of cases recorded on the Child Support Agency old rules scheme would pay (a) increased and (b) decreased payments if migrated to the new rules scheme. (77946)

For those cases with a full maintenance assessment on the child support computer system (CSCS) in February 2006, we estimate that around (a) 60 per cent. would have an increased liability and (b) 40 per cent. would have a decreased liability if the new scheme rules were applied to their current reported circumstances.

We estimate that the majority of changes in maintenance liabilities will be for less than £10 per week. To give non-resident parents and parents with care time to adjust to their new amount, most changes are phased in by fixed annual steps.

Source: Child support computer system five per cent. extract, February 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average number of Child Support Agency staff who are involved in each case from first application to the establishment of regular payments. (77947)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many unprocessed cases were held by the Child Support Agency during each month of the last year for which figures are available; (77949)

(2) what his latest estimate is of the backlog of new claims held by the Child Support Agency.

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his latest estimate is of the backlog of new claims held by the Child Support Agency.

You also asked how many unprocessed cases were held by the Child Support Agency during each month of the last year for which figures are available.

As at March 2006, the Agency had a total 333,000 uncleared potential applications. This consisted of 66,000 old scheme applications and 267,000 new scheme applications. These figures can be found in table 1 and table 2.1 of the latest issue Agency’s ‘Quarterly Summary Statistics’ (QSS), a copy of which is available in the House library.

The following table shows the number of uncleared potential applications across both schemes for each month of the last year.

Although the total volume of uncleared potential applications fell by 8% between January 2005 and March 2006, the Agency recognises that this remains unacceptably high. The Agency therefore has a 2006/07 target to ensure that, by March 2007, the volume of new scheme uncleared applications outstanding at March 2006 is reduced by 25 %.

Number of uncleared potential applications across both schemes, March 2006

Total agency uncleared applications

New scheme uncleared applications

Old scheme uncleared applications

April 2005

352,000

266,000

86,000

May 2005

346,000

265,000

82,000

June 2005

341,000

263,000

78,000

July 2005

340,000

263,000

76,000

August 2005

339,000

264,000

75,000

September 2005

333,000

261,000

73,000

October 2005

331,000

262,000

70,000

November 2005

328,000

259,000

69,000

December 2005

327,000

259,000

68,000

January 2006

327,000

260,000

67,000

February 2006

332,000

265,000

67,000

March 2006

333,000

267,000

66,000

Notes:

1. The definition of an uncleared potential application differs between new and old schemes. Old scheme cases are considered cleared when they have been processed through to an assessment. New scheme cases are only considered cleared when they have received a calculation and have a payment schedule in place.

2. These figures include all uncleared potential applications from those received in the latest month to those received more than a year ago.

3. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his latest estimate is of the average time it takes the Child Support Agency to bring cases from first application to assessment; (77950)

(2) how many and what proportion of eligible parents received their first payment from the Child Support Agency within the target time of six weeks in each month of the last year for which figures are available.

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your Parliamentary Questions about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his latest estimate is of the average time it takes the Child Support Agency to bring cases from first application to assessment.

You also asked how many and what proportion of eligible parents received their first payment from the Child Support Agency within the time limit of six weeks in each month of the last year for which figures are available.

As at the end of March 2006, of those cases that progressed to calculation since the introduction of the new scheme, the average time from first contact to calculation was 181 days (26 weeks). Of such cases, 24 per cent received a calculation in less than 6 weeks; 48 per cent between 6 weeks and 6 months; 16 per cent between 6 months and a year; and 12 per cent took more than a year.

It should be noted, however, that the Agency does not regard an application as being cleared once a calculation alone has been carried out, but only once collection arrangements have been agreed with the non resident parent. Additionally, since not all Child Support Agency applications result in a calculation, an application is also defined as cleared if the case is closed; the parent with care is identified as claiming Good Cause or is subject to a Reduced Benefit Decision; or the application is identified as being a change of circumstances on an existing case as opposed to a new application.

As of the end of March 2006, for all cases cleared since the introduction of the new scheme, the mean average time taken to process a new-scheme application from the date of first contact to clearance, as defined above, was 204 days (29 weeks). Of those cases cleared, 25 per cent did so in less that 6 weeks; 41 per cent between 6 weeks and 6 months; 17 per cent between 6 months and a year; and 17 per cent took more than a year. These figures exclude 126,000 applications that came through the Jobcentre Plus interface and which have been cleared, but for which insufficient management information exists to enable age at clearance to be determined.

The Agency does not have a time limit for the time taken for a parent with care to receive their first payment. Information regarding the number and percentage of cases receiving a first payment within six weeks or longer is attached.

Once a case has received a calculation, a method of collection must be agreed with the non-resident parent and set up by the Agency which, in the cases of a Direct Debit or a Standing Order, may take a few weeks. The day on which payment is due from the non- resident parent is then specified by the Agency having taken in to account the date of any other income payable to the non-resident parent, which may result in a delay of up to 4 weeks to make payment to the Agency. The Agency then has to process the payment from the non-resident parent and make payment to the parent with care.

Delays may occur if a non resident parent does not comply. For an employed non-resident parent the Agency can then impose a Deductions from Earnings Order (DEO). Where this occurs, the Agency must contact and liaise with the employer to set up the DEO, wait for the subsequent payment from the employer, which in itself can take over 20 days, before money is available to be paid to the parent with care.

The elapsed times between a payment request by the Agency and actual payment by the non resident parent mean that, it is unlikely that it would be possible for many parents with care to receive maintenance payments within 6 weeks of their first contact with the Agency.

The Agency published its 2006 Client Charter on 28th April 2006. This sets out the minimum standards of service which we aim to meet in future for each of our main business areas. The first three service standards which relate to first contact and payments are attached.

I hope you find this helpful.

Number of cases where payment has been made from the Agency to the parent with care by time elapsed since first contact with the CSA

Number of cases receiving payment in

Date of intake

Less than 6 weeks

6 weeks or longer

Number of cases where payment not yet received

Total

January 2005

500

5,000

1,000

6,500

February 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

March 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

April 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

May 2005

500

4,500

1,500

6,500

June 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

July 2005

500

4,500

1,500

6,500

August 2005

500

4,000

1,500

6,000

September 2005

500

4,000

2,000

6,500

October 2005

500

3,500

2,000

6,500

November 2005

500

3,500

2,500

6,500

December 2005

500

2,000

2,000

4,500

Percentage of cases where payment has been made from the Agency to the parent with care by time elapsed since first contact with the CSA

Percentage of cases receiving payment in

Date of intake

Less than 6 weeks

6 weeks or longer

Percentage of cases where payment not yet received

Total

January 2005

5

76

19

6,500

February 2005

6

76

19

7,000

March 2005

5

74

21

7,000

April 2005

6

73

21

7,000

May 2005

6

73

21

6,500

June 2005

7

70

23

7,000

July 2005

7

69

23

6,500

August 2005

8

66

26

6,000

September 2005

9

64

28

6,500

October 2005

10

57

33

6,500

November 2005

10

54

36

6,500

December 2005

7

47

46

4,500

Note: Numbers are rounded to the nearest 500, and percentages to the nearest whole percent. As such, components may not sum to totals.

Child Support Agency Client Charter—Service standards relating to first contact and payment

Standard 1

If the parent with care can give us contact details for the non-resident parent, we will start gathering information from the non- resident parent within four weeks of the application being received. We will aim to make an accurate decision on the application within 12 weeks, but in some cases this may take as long as 26 weeks.

If we do not have current contact details for the non-resident parent, we will trace them as quickly as we can. These applications may take longer to progress. In the small number of cases where we cannot trace the non-resident parent, we will not be able to progress the application.

Standard 2

Where we are collecting child maintenance, we aim to make a first payment to the parent with care within six weeks of making the initial payment arrangements with the non-resident parent.

If the non-resident parent has a job but either fails or refuses to pay, we will aim to obtain payment via a Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) within four months of making initial payment arrangements.

Where the non-resident parent has still not paid four months after initial payment arrangements were made, we will refer the case to our specialist enforcement unit.

Standard 3

We will make maintenance payments to parents with care within a week of receiving the money from the non-resident parent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average administration cost per case on (a) the new and (b) the old Child Support Agency scheme was in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (77953)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average administration cost per case on (a) the new scheme and (b) the old scheme was in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

The Child Support Agency is funded to administer child support applications and payments regardless of whether the case is administered on the new scheme or the old scheme. The actual costs of administering child support cases under each scheme are not separately identified and as such we cannot supply information to the level of detail required.

The cost of administering the Child Support Agency in 2004/05 was £325.6 million. Figures for 2005/06 will be available when the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts are published. A change in accounting policy proposed by the Department for Work and Pensions, will lead to a restatement of 2004/05 expenditure reported in the Agency's annual accounts. This reflects the incorporation of costs associated with the Modernisation Programme in the accounts of individual Agencies rather than charging such costs directly to the central Departmental Resource Account. It is expected that the restated 2004-05 figure will increase expenditure to around £425 million. Costs for 2005/06 will be prepared on the same basis.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints have been made to the Child Support Agency in each year for which figures are available. (77954)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Stephen Geraghty. He will write to the hon. Member with the requested information.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many complaints were made to the Child Support Agency in each year for which figures are available.

The volumes of complaints received direct from clients, their representatives and MPs to the Child Support Agency or to our Ministers, for which information is available, are in the attached table.

It should be noted that it is difficult to use this information to make meaningful comparisons over time due to changes in the way that information has been recorded. In particular whilst the volume of stage 1 written complaints undoubtedly rose between 2002-03 and 2003-04, this is likely to have been due in part to more rigorous recording of complaints received at the time, and the introduction by the Agency of a three tier complaints process during 2003-04.

It should also be noted that the volume of complaints has stabilised. In the twelve months up to March 2006, the Agency received a total of 55,000 complaints. This compares to 55,000 for the 12 months up to May 2005 (the earliest period for which comparable data for total numbers of complaints received is available).

Further, to put the attached figures into context, the 55,000 complaints received in the 12 months to March 2006 represent less than 4% of the 1.5 million cases dealt with by the CSA.

I hope you find this answer useful.

Agency complaints—number of cases received in the Agency 1997 to 2006

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Stage 1 complaints received (Written)

27,875

28,073

21,015

19,634

15,493

15,182

24,809

29,213

27,344

Stage 1 Complaints received (telephone)

1

1

1

1

1

2

7,458

10,570

10,660

Chief Executive Complaints

3

3

3

4,096

4,555

7,804

4

5

5,887

Treat Official Complaints6

3

3

3

2,609

2,869

1,344

1,521

1,108

1,278

MP Complaints to Business Units

3

3

3

4,175

4,818

4,537

5,317

8,871

9,729

1 Whilst the Agency did receive stage 1 telephone complaints prior to 2002-03, their volumes were not recorded. 2 Although 671 stage 1 telephone complaints were recorded between December 2002 and March 2003, their volumes were not recorded throughout the whole year, thus preventing meaningful comparison with later years. 3 Whilst the Agency did receive complaints directly to the Chief Executive, treat official complaints, and MP complaints to Business Units prior to 2000/01, their volumes were not recorded. 4 During 2003-04 complaints sent directly to the Chief Executive were not recorded separately from those complaints that were escalated to him as part of the 3-stage process. Therefore, although 7,183 complaints in total were received during 2003-04, it is not possible to separate out those complaints received by the Chief Executive directly (as opposed to those escalated via the complaints process), thus preventing meaningful comparison with data for earlier years. 5 In April and May of 2004, the Chief Executive received a total of 1,435 complaints however, is not possible to separate out those complaints received by the Chief Executive directly, as opposed to those escalated to stage 3 of the complaints process). From June 2004-March 2005, after which time such complaints were recorded separately, the Chief Executive received 4,393 direct complaints and 2,549 complaints escalated upwards from stage 2. Again, these recording issues prevent meaningful comparison of this category with earlier years. 6 Treat official letters are those received by a Minister from a member of the public, and referred for initial consideration to an official of the agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the average time taken to resolve complaints to the Child Support Agency about (a) old scheme cases and (b) new scheme cases. (77956)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his latest estimate is of the average time taken to resolve complaints to the Child Support Agency about (a) old scheme cases and (b) new scheme cases.

The Agency had a 2005/06 internal target to ensure that 68% of stage one client complaints were resolved or had a resolution plan in place within 15 working days of receipt of the complaint from the client.

I cannot provide the average time taken to resolve complaints but information on the Agency's 2005/06 performance against this standard is set out in the table below.

Percentage of complaints which have been resolved, or have a resolution plan within 15 working days of receipt of the complaint for 2005/06

Old child support scheme

90

New child support scheme

88

Overall

89

Note: This target is measured by checking a 10% sample of cases which have been resolved or have a resolution plan in place.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process compensation payments made to Child Support Agency clients for administrative errors was in 2005-06. (77957)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process compensation payments made by Child Support Agency clients for administrative errors was in 2005-6.

Financial redress is made to clients in cases where maladministration has occurred. The Agency does not hold robust information to distinguish administrative errors from other acts of maladministration.

However, in the 2005/06 financial year 80% of financial redress payments for maladministered cases were processed within 30 days

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the 10 largest total (a) compensation and (b) maladministration payments made by the Child Support Agency to a single individual have been since May 1997, including separate payments made in relation to a single case requiring compensation; and if he will make a statement. (77958)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds, dated 29 June 2006:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the 10 largest total (a) compensation and (b) maladministration payments made by the Child Support Agency to a single individual including separate payments made in relation to a single case requiring compensation have been since May 1997; and if he will make a statement.

The Agency does not have sufficient robust information to give you precisely the information you requested. I apologise for this but can give you information on the ten highest financial redress payments awarded due to maladministration between the period 1 December 2001 to 31 May 2006.

The table below contains the available information.

£

1

41,000.00

2

27,961.66

3

22,160.08

4

19,965.36

5

19,056.49

6

18,980.90

7

16,000.00

8

14,905.97

9

14,732.40

10

14,648.55

Maladministration and compensatory payments in excess of £10,000 represent a small fraction (just over 0.01%) of the total number of such payments made by the Agency.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost was of compensation payments made to clients of the Child Support Agency for administrative errors in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (77959)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds, dated 29 June 2006:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total cost of compensation payments made to clients of the Child Support Agency for administrative errors was in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Financial redress is made to clients in cases where maladministration has occurred. The Agency does not hold robust information to distinguish administrative errors from other acts of maladministration.

The following table summarises the financial redress payments made to clients in each of the last five years, as outlined in the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts. Figures for 2005-06 will be available in the Agency's 2005-06 Annual Report and Accounts.

Financial redress paid to clients (£)

2000-01

3,053,000

2001-02

2,590,000

2002-03

2,478,000

2003-04

2,331,000

2004-05

3,043,000

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints of (a) harassment, (b) bullying and (c) discrimination in the workplace there were against Child Support Agency staff in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (77960)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of (a) harassment (b) bullying and (c) discrimination have been reported to the Child Support Agency in each of the last five years.

The numbers of harassment, bullying and discrimination cases formally reported to the Agency in the last five years are as follows:

Number of cases reported

2001/02

49

2002/03

32

2003/04

44

2004/05

22

2005/06

18

The nature of the complaints does not allow separation of the data into the constituent elements of harassment, bullying and discrimination.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the proportion of sickness absence days taken in a year at the Child Support Agency which were due to stress and other mental health problems. (77961)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive.

He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds, dated 29 June 2006:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As the Chief Executive is out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the proportion of sickness absence days taken at the Child Support Agency in the last five years that were due to stress and other mental health problems.

The table below shows the absences broadly due to stress and other mental health problems as a percentage of total sickness absences.

Percentage

January 2001-December 2001

28.8

January 2002-December 2002

28.3

April 2003-March 2004

31.8

April 2004-March 2005

32

April 2005-March 2006

26.7

Figures for January 2003 to March 2003 are unavailable as a change in methodology for collection of sickness data was introduced in April 2003.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) absence rates due to sickness and (b) turnover rates for Child Support Agency staff were for each year since 1995-96. (77967)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As the Chief Executive is out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) absence rates due to sickness and (b) turnover rates for Child Support Agency staff were for each year since 1995-96.

The tables below provide the information requested.

Year ending

Annual sickness rate (average working days lost per member of staff, expressed in full-time equivalent terms)

December 1999

12.5

December 2000

11.9

December 2001

12.3

December 2002

12.9

March 2003

13.7

March 2004

15.6

March 2005

15.9

March 2006

12.0

Year ending March:

Turnover rates (Percentage)

1999

27.6

2000

17.1

2001

14.6

2002

14.6

2003

13.0

2004

14.9

2005

16.6

2006

13.6

Notes: 1. Data prior to 1999 are not available. 2. Due to a change in methodology for collection of sickness data introduced in April 2003, the year end dates have changed from December to March.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the key performance metrics are for measuring the performance of the EDS contract with the Child Support Agency. (77969)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply for the Chief Executive. As he is out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the key performance metrics are for measuring the success of the EDS contract with the Child Support Agency.

In August 2005, the Department realigned its IT contracts with Electronic Data Systems (EDS), including that covering the Child Support Reforms (CSR), into the Standard Services Business Allocation (SSBA). The realigned contract is intended to deliver industry standard services at market competitive prices to the Department as a whole including Child Support Agency.

Under the SSBA, EDS is required to meet contractual levels for live operational services across a full range of industry standard measures. The key criteria on which EDS' performance is measured in respect of CS2 (the principal IT system used by the CSA) are:

The level of system availability (where the current target is 99.2%, rising to 99.6% over time);

The level of desktop infrastructure availability (where the current target is 99.2%, rising to 99.4% over time);

Accuracy and timeliness of payments to parents with care (where the target is 100%).

The Department is entitled to financial remedies if these targets are not met. In addition, the Department can benchmark EDS services against external industry comparators to help achieve ongoing performance and value for money.

The general contract realignment included resolution of outstanding CSR contractual issues with EDS. As part of this agreement, EDS is required to deliver a staged programme of work to fix agreed defects on CS2. The Department is monitoring delivery of this programme to planned milestone dates and to agreed testing acceptance and implementation quality criteria. Once all the relevant services have been transformed, application reliability, which affects processing times, will also become a contractual service level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library the latest list of change requests made to EDS by the Child Support Agency. (77972)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will place in the Library the latest list of change requests made to EDS by the Child Support Agency.

The following table shows the latest list of change requests made by the Child Support Agency.

Change requests

Benefits

CR1 (chargeable defects)

This allows the business to prioritise and approve small IT fixes during the testing phase which are identified as chargeable, without delaying the current testing and delivery timescales.

Change Release 1.1 (Integration Test Project)

To ensure continuity of the development activity for Change Release 1.1 whilst business requirements are re-affirmed.

Management Information Improvement Project

This will supply management information for the key core process areas of the business to assist performance management.

Call Off Scans

This will allow the Agency to meet its legal requirement to maintain the accuracy of data on the CS2 system and also allow the business to obtain detailed case information.

HSBC Bank Files

This updates and changes the way bank files are handled between the Agency/Department and HSBC and creates an automatic link between the banking system and Agency systems.

Programme Launch

This will ensure that a defined and contracted programme of work is accepted, is jointly regarded as representing the best IT solution to support of the Agency’s change programme. In turn this will mean that relevant EDS resource can be effectively and efficiently managed and projects implemented.

Year- end scans on FMS

This will allow the analysis of Agency debt to support year- end accounting activities, the development of policy proposals and emerging plans.

Weeding and Archiving

This allows the Agency to maintain efficient weeding and archiving of data.

Data Management System Performance Changes

This will reduce the overall time of the Data Management System batch run, and thereby minimise impact on the online working day start time.

Notifications Survey - DWP (CSA)

This will improve clarity of client notifications.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency (a) were received, (b) received an engaged tone and (c) were disconnected during the interactive voice response process in the period April 2002 to May 2006. (77973)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency (a) were received, (b) received an engaged tone, (c) were disconnected during the interactive voice response process in the period April 2002 to May 2006.

The latest information is contained in the table. Please note that point (c) has been interpreted as referring to the total number of calls abandoned (for example, by clients who do not have a National Insurance number to hand and hang up to go and find it before calling back) or lost during the automated part of the process.

Further information on the Agency’s telephony performance is available in Table 16 of the latest edition of the Agency’s Quarterly Summary of Statistics. A copy of this document is available in the House library, as well as on the internet, at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/csa.asp.

The Agency has shown significant and sustained improvement in telephony performance. Specifically:

Average waiting times to answer calls from the queue improved in 2005/06 compared to 2004/05, from 2:29 minutes to 1:21 minutes for new system calls; and 0:56 seconds to 0:28 seconds for old system calls.

In 2005/06, 91% of the calls available in queues for Agency employees were answered. This is up from 84% in 2004/05.

I hope you find this helpful.

Telephony outcomes, 2002-03 to 2005-06

April 2002- March 2003

April 2003- March 2004

April 2004- March 2005

April 2005- March 2006

Attempted client calls to both CS2 and CSCS numbers

4,145,000

6,051,000

5,738,000

5,352,000

Calls for which outcome not recorded

45,000

145,000

48,000

42,000

Calls for which outcome recorded

4,100,000

5,906,000

5,689,000

5,310,000

Of which:

Calls that received an engaged/busy tone

See note

498,000

126,000

50,000

Calls abandoned/lost during the IVR process.

528,000

362,000

320,000

317,000

Notes: 1. Data is presented for calls made regarding cases on the new system (CS2) and the old system (CSCS) combined. 2. “Attempted client calls” excludes calls attempted outside working hours. 3. “Calls for which outcome not recorded” are those that were received but for which, due to data problems, the eventual outcome was not recorded. The volume of such calls has decreased significantly in the last 3 years as management information systems have improved. 4. “Calls for which outcome recorded” are those which were received and for which there is management information to track the eventual outcome. 5. IVR denotes the automated touch tone part of the process where clients enter their details via the telephone key pad. Once callers have cleared this part of the process, they enter a queue to be answered by a CSA employee. Note that there is no IVR process on the old system. 6. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what policies are in place with regard to (a) migrating Child Support Agency cases on the old rules system to the new rules system and (b) migrating them back onto the old rules system. (77978)

We have always said that we would not consider transferring the bulk of the old scheme cases onto the new scheme until the new scheme was working well.

Child support legislation allows an old scheme case to transfer to the new scheme where an old scheme case has prescribed links to a new scheme application.

There is no policy for converting cases back to the old scheme. But where a re-application for child support maintenance is made within 13 weeks of an old scheme application ceasing, “linking rules” will provide for the new application to be assessed under old scheme rules.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what total amount of outstanding debt is owed to parents with care via the Child Support Agency; and what proportion of this is deemed uncollectable. (77980)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply form the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what total amount of outstanding debt is owed to parents with care via the Child Support Agency; and what proportion of this is deemed uncollectable.

The outstanding debt balance for 2004/05 is £3,252.75 million for both new scheme and old scheme cases, of which £1,984.42 million has been classified as probably uncollectable. This information is shown the table below.

2004-05

Debt Position (£ million)

Collectable

637.79

Possibly uncollectable

599.54

Deferred

31.00

Probably uncollectable

1984.42

Total

3252.75

I am unable to provide the outstanding debt amount owed to the parent with care as there is no differential applied to the outstanding debt balance between the Secretary of State and the parent with care.

This response is based on the position at the end of the financial year 2004/05. The 2005/06 figures are currently being audited by National Audit Office and will be published in the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts.

Definitions of Collectability of Debt

Collectable

Amount outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed is likely to be collected. This takes into account factors such as regular contact with the non-resident parent, where regular payments are being made or an arrears agreement has been set up.

Possibly Uncollectable

Amounts outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed some uncertainty over whether it will be collected. The amounts are considered doubtful where, for example, payments have been infrequent or it has not been possible to establish an arrears agreement or impose a deduction of earning order.

Deferred Debt

Debt deferred by the Agency, provided non-resident parents meet certain conditions on payment of regular maintenance and the remaining debt outstanding.

Probably Uncollectable

Amount outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed is likely to be very difficult to collect due, for example, to the lack of contact with, or the personal circumstance of, the non-resident parent. In many of these cases the Agency has suspended recovery action until such time as the individual's circumstances change.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in prison have Child Support Agency maintenance liabilities. (79616)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time was which the Child Support Agency took for processing a change in circumstances applications in (a) 2001-02, (b) 2002-03, (c) 2003-04, (d) 2004-05 and (e) 2005-06. (81228)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many variations to Child Support Agency payment schedules were granted on the grounds of (a) assets, (b) lifestyle inconsistent with income, (c) diversion of income and (d) income not taken into account purposes in (i) 2004-05 and (ii) 2005-06. (81229)