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Child Support Agency

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 15 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what targets the Child Support Agency has for processing and reducing the volume of cases processed clerically; and if he will make a statement. (122884)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what targets the Child Support Agency has for processing and reducing the volume of cases processed clerically; and if he will make a statement. [122884]

The Child Support Agency has been set six targets by the Secretary of State for 2006/07, which were published in the Agency’s Business Plan, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library, or on the internet via the following link: www.csa.gov.uk/pdf/English/reports/plan0607.pdf

Two of these targets relate to the processing and clearing of applications received since the new scheme was introduced in March 2003 and include the Agency’s clerical cases. The first concerns the volume of applications being cleared and states that: by 31 March 2007, the Agency will have reduced the volume of uncleared new scheme applications by 25 per cent of the amount outstanding by the end of March 2006.

The second concerns the speed with which new applications should be processed and states that by 31 March 2007, the Agency will clear 55 per cent of new applications within 12 weeks of receipt and 80 per cent within 26 weeks.

Reducing the number of clerical cases is dependent on rectifying the existing defects on the Agency’s computer system – work will continue over 2007 to resolve these defects. To date the Agency has reduced the amount of new cases that need to be processed clerically by introducing a number of fixes to the computer system. The Agency aims to restore its clerical cases onto the computer system when the system is working effectively.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many additional new scheme Child Support Agency cases were being processed clerically in each month since January 2005; and if he will make a statement; (122885)

(2) what proportion of clerical Child Support Agency cases involved parents with care in receipt of benefits in each month since January 2005; and if he will make a statement.

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 15 March 2007:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions two related questions:

how many additional new scheme Child Support Agency cases were being processed clerically in each month since January 2005; and if he will make a statement;

what proportion of clerical Child Support Agency cases involved parents with care in receipt of benefits in each month since January 2005; and if he will make a statement.

Information regarding the number of cases being processed clerically is available from March 2005 onwards and is published in table 20 of the December 2006 Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary Statistics, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library, or on the internet via the following link:

www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/child_support/csa_quarterly_dec06.asp.

However, the information you have requested about the proportion of those cases that involved parents with care in receipt of benefits is not currently available.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many days training were provided to Child Support Agency staff in the last 12 months. (122896)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many days training were provided to Child Support Agency staff in the last 12 months. [122896]

As a result of a capability review under the Operational Improvement Plan, almost 2000 Executive Officers were placed in Team Leader or Complex Caseworker roles.

The Team Leader training includes sessions on Standards of Client Service and the importance of Quality Assurance in preventing complaints. Management skills training is included providing people with the skills to enable them to deal with attendance management, capability and conduct.

People identified as Complex Caseworker are receiving up to 16 weeks of training. This training provides Complex Caseworks with technical knowledge, time management skills, case practice, communication skills (to clients and colleagues) and peer assurance in order to maintain accuracy, and enables them to secure client outcomes on high risk and non-compliant clients.

The information requested is provided in the attached table:

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Training days

February 2006

5,627

March 2006

6,142

April 2006

4,718

May 2006

5,384

June 2006

4,159

July 2006

5,250

August 2006

6,963

September 2006

7,986

October 2006

8,724

November 2006

11,590

December 2006

6,998

January 2007

7,970

Total

81,511

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Child Support Agency staff received training in each month since commencement of the Operational Improvement Plan; and if he will make a statement. (122897)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Child Support Agency staff received training in each month since commencement of the Operational Improvement Plan; and if he will make a statement. [122897]

As a result of a capability review under the Operational Improvement Plan, almost 2000 Executive Officers were placed in Team Leader or Complex Caseworker roles.

The Team Leader training includes sessions on Standards of Client Service and the importance of Quality Assurance in preventing complaints. Management skills training is included providing people with the skills to enable them to deal with attendance management, capability and conduct.

People identified as Complex Caseworker are receiving up to 16 weeks of training. This training provides Complex Caseworks with technical knowledge, time management skills, case practice, communication skills (to clients and colleagues) and peer assurance in order to maintain accuracy, and enables them to secure client outcomes on high risk and non-compliant clients.

The information requested is provided in the attached table.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

People trained

February 2006

570

March 2006

403

April 2006

232

May 2006

546

June 2006

412

July 2006

442

August 2006

416

September 2006

419

October 2006

344

November 2006

405

December 2006

600

January 2007

297

Total

5,086

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) total and (b) full-time equivalent Child Support Agency staff were engaged in processing (i) old scheme and (ii) new scheme maintenance claims in each month of the last two years for which figures are available. (122921)

[holding answer 23 February 2007]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 15 March 2007:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child support agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) total and (b) full-time equivalent Child support Agency staff were engaged in processing (i) old scheme and (ii) new scheme maintenance claims in each month of the last two years for which figures are available. [122921]

The attached table details the people working on processing new applications for each scheme in full-time equivalents for each month of the last two years. I regret that the information is not available on the number of individual people employed in these areas in each month.

The clearance process includes all work undertaken on applications for child maintenance until one of the following conditions is met: a parent with care has been identified as claiming Good Cause or is subject to a Reduced Benefit Decision; the application is identified as being change of circumstances on an existing case; the application is identified as being a change of circumstances on an existing case; the application has been closed; or for old scheme cases a maintenance assessment has been carried out and for new scheme cases, a payment arrangement between the parent with care and the non-resident parent is in place.

The Agency holds only a negligible number of completely unprocessed applications. The amount of work required to achieve clearance, and the length of time involved, varies considerable depending on, amongst other things, the circumstances of the parents and how readily they cooperate with Agency. The work undertaken by the Agency’s New Client Teams extends far beyond simply clearing new applications through the computer system. A significant proportion of the work undertaken by the Agency’s New Client Teams consists of setting up the first maintenance payments to the parent with care, and retaining responsibility for the growing caseload until the first fully complaint, on time payment is made by the non-resident parent.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

2005

Old scheme

New scheme

January

142

2,455

February

132

2,465

March

130

2,307

April

109

2,415

May

107

2,407

June

95

2,484

July

94

2,525

August

81

2,570

September

74

2,558

October

72

2,615

November

55

2,719

December

56

2,637

2006

January

55

2,604

February

55

2,618

March

52

2,537

April

106

2,831

May

101

2,815

June

100

2,958

July

92

3,075

August

104

3,040

September

96

3,052

October

92

3,050

November

82

3,069

December

80

3,433

Notes:

1. The table includes all Agency people working on child maintenance applications for either the old or new schemes. These people continue working on applications beyond the point at which the application is recorded as cleared until the first full on-time payment has been made.

2. The information is derived from a clerical count provided monthly by each area within the Agency.

3. This count is made in whole time equivalents—there is no comparable count of people involved.

4. The numbers include people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland working for the Agency on cases from Great Britain.

5. People working on old scheme cases on CS2 are included in old scheme totals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff are employed in each of the six Child Support Agency call centres. (123159)

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:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff are employed in each of the six Child Support Agency call centres. [123159]

The Agency does not operate a classic call centre model but seeks to route calls to relevant caseworkers. We do however, have a ‘Helpline’ for general enquiries and for where it is not possible to route calls to caseworkers. This ‘Helpline’ is operated from six regional centres supporting new scheme clients and one national centre in Liverpool supporting old scheme clients and general enquiries. The number of full time equivalent staff in each centre is shown in the table below.

Call centres

System

Full-time equivalent staff

Dudley

CS2

64.84

Hastings

CS2

46.82

Falkirk

CS2

67.69

Plymouth

CS2

66.60

Birkenhead

CS2

74.69

Belfast

CS2

85.95

Liverpool

CSCS

128.90

Total call centre staff

535.49

The Agency has significantly improved its telephony service, and in the nine months to December 2006 answered 97% of calls, compared to 91% in the year ending March 2006, with an average waiting time of 25 seconds, down from 59 seconds in the year ending March 2006.

I hope you find this response helpful.