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Child Support Agency

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects Child Support Agency assessments made under the old scheme to be converted to assessments made under the new scheme. (91524)

We have always said that we would only convert old scheme cases to the new scheme when it was working well. As part of his proposals for the redesign of the child support system, Sir David Henshaw recommended a radical approach allied to his proposal to create a new organisation. He has proposed that both of the existing schemes are closed down and that people are asked to re-apply to a new, simplified system. We think this has considerable merit and will help ensure that the new organisation is not contaminated by the failures of the past. However, we need to do more analysis to assess the most appropriate way to enable existing clients to either move to private arrangements or make a claim under the new system.

We will still continue, however, to convert cases on the old scheme where they are linked to a new scheme case.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Child Support Agency cases of outstanding arrears have been referred to debt collection agencies in each year since 1996-97. (92216)

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 Stephen Geraghty dated 3 October 2006:

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Child Support Agency cases of outstanding arrears have been referred to debt collection agencies in each year since 1996-97.

The Agency did not refer any cases to debt collection agencies before August 2005. Between August 2005 and March 2006 the Agency conducted a small scale pilot using two private debt collection agencies to assess the feasibility of involving the private sector to recover Agency debt. As part of this pilot the Agency referred 2000 cases to these agencies.

Following the pilot and a procurement exercise the Agency signed contracts with two debt collection agencies on 7th July 2006. Since then the Agency has referred 4,433 cases to these agencies.

I hope this information is helpful.