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Child Support Agency

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 12 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of the extent of bad debts facing the Child Support Agency in Northern Ireland; and what action is being taken to recover such debts. (89760)

The total amount of debt facing the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency is £58.6 million of which £26.3 million is collectable debt and £32.3 million is probably uncollectable for a variety of reasons namely, a lack of contact with, or the personal circumstances of, the Non-Resident Parent.

As part of the Northern Ireland Improvement Plan we are considering and pursuing several options for the recovery of debt, this includes improved use of enforcement powers and the outsourcing of debt collection via the Department to debt collection experts. In addition, a dedicated team has been set up to deal with non-compliance and the early results of this work indicate an increase in the number of agreements to pay.