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Children: Maintenance

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many parents with care in receipt of benefits were awaiting payment in (a) old scheme and (b) new scheme Child Support Agency cases in each month since January 2003. (122889)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 24 May 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 parents with care in receipt of benefits were awaiting payment in (a) old scheme and (b) new scheme Child Support Agency cases in each month since January 2003.

There are two scenarios where a parent with care can be awaiting payment. Firstly there are those cases that are waiting for a maintenance assessment/calculation to establish if or how much the non-resident parent should pay for their children. Secondly, where a positive liability has been established, a parent with care can be waiting for the non-resident parent to pay maintenance.

The information requested can be found on the following tables.

Table 1 shows the number of new and old scheme cases (on the new computer system only) that have not had an assessment or calculation, where the parent with care was known to be in receipt of benefit. This information is not available for the old computer system; therefore it is not representative of the total amount of cases that have not had an assessment or calculation in the Agency as a whole. Also, it is important to note that cases that have not had an assessment/calculation will not necessarily result in a positive liability to pay maintenance. Whilst the table shows an increase in the number of new scheme cases awaiting assessment where the parent with care was on benefits, it should be noted that this is due in part, to the natural growth of the new system caseload over the period in question.

Table 2 shows the number of new and old scheme cases (on both computer systems) with a positive maintenance liability where the parent with care was in receipt of benefit but the non-resident parent was not paying maintenance. Although the number of new scheme cases where the parent with care was on benefits, and were not receiving payment, has increased, it should be noted that this is due in part, to the natural growth of the new system caseload over the period in question.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Table 1: the number of cases (on the new computer system only) that have not had an assessment or calculation, where the parent with care was known to be in receipt of benefit at the end of the quarter, February 2003 to May 2006

Quarter ending

Old scheme cases operating on the new computer system

New scheme

May 2003

12,000

17,000

August 2003

16,000

44,000

November 2003

18,000

58,000

February 20404

19,000

65,000

May 2004

20,000

79,000

August 2004

21,000

86,000

November 2004

16,000

89,000

February 2005

16,000

94,000

May 2005

16,000

96,000

August 2005

15,000

99,000

November 2005

14,000

99,000

February 2006

13,000

101,000

May 2006

13,000

95,000

Notes:

1. To establish whether a parent with care was on benefit at a point in time the agency has to match its records to DWP benefit data. It is only possible to match data at the end of every quarter. The latest information available is for May 2006.

2. Due to restrictions of management information it is not possible to state how many uncleared cases on the old computer system have a parent with care on benefit.

3. The table does not include a number of “potential applications” received via Jobcentre Plus as the agency is unable to establish how many of these cases are genuine cases and how many are changes of circumstances on existing cases until the cases have been cleared.

4 Cases that have not had an assessment/calculation will not necessarily result in a positive liability to pay maintenance.

5. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.

Table 2: the number of cases (on both computer systems) with a positive maintenance liability over the three month period ending in the month shown, where the parent with care was in receipt of benefit at the end of that period, but the non-resident parent was not paying maintenance, February 2003 to May 2006

Quarter ending

Old scheme

New scheme

Total

February 2003

62,000

n/a

62,000

May 2003

64,000

1,000

65,000

August 2003

65,000

9,000

74,000

November 2003

59,000

21,000

81,000

February 2004

56,000

30,000

85,000

May 2004

53,000

35,000

89,000

August 2004

52,000

39,000

90,000

November 2004

59,000

40,000

99,000

February 2005

59,000

43,000

102,000

May 2005

56,000

47,000

104,000

August 2005

55,000

53,000

108,000

November 2005

52,000

59,000

111,000

February 2006

50,000

66,000

115,000

May 2006

47,000

68,000

115,000

Notes:

1. To establish whether a parent with care was on benefit at a point in time the agency has to match its records to DWP benefit data. It is only possible to match data at the end of every quarter. The latest information available is for May 2006.

2. The table shows the number of cases with a positive maintenance liability at the end of each three month period where the parent with care was in receipt of benefit at the end of that period, but the non-resident parent was not paying maintenance.

3. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discretion the Child Support Agency has to allow longer periods for the payment of arrears than the guidelines suggest; and if he will make a statement. (133410)

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

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 24 May 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. As he is out of the country, I am responding with his authority, on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discretion the Child Support Agency has to allow longer periods for the payment of arrears than the guidelines suggest; and if he will make a statement. [133410]

Although the Agency aims to collect all outstanding arrears within 2 years where possible, guidelines issued to our people also reflect the terms of the Collections and Enforcement Regulations, 1992 that prohibit the Agency from recouping more than 40% of a non-resident parent’s net income.

The guidelines further allow Agency people to exercise reasonable discretion when negotiating arrears agreements. In doing so, we take account of the need to ensure non-resident parents meet their responsibilities, and then more maintenance gets to more children. Full account of the circumstances of the client in question are also taken, and in some cases the Agency can allow a longer period for the payment of the arrears than two years.

I hope your find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much had been received by the Child Support Agency by non-resident parents but not sent on to the parent with care on the most recent date for which figures are available; and what the figure was on the same day in each year since 2003. (134122)

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, date 24 May 2007:

In reply to you 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 much had been received by the Child Support Agency by non-resident parents but not sent on to the parent with care on the most recent date for which figures are available; and what the figure was on the same day in each year since 2003. [134122]

The Agency collection service deals with significant sums passing through its bank account (in excess of £600 million in each of the last two years). As a consequence the Agency bank balance is continually turning over with receipts from Non Resident Parents and employers which need to be assigned and be paid out to Parents with Care or the Secretary of State (where the Parent with Care is in receipt of benefit).

The table below contains a snapshot of the Agency's bank account for each of the last four years.

Statement of balances

£000

31 March 2006

31 March 2005

31 March 2004

31 March 2003

Funds awaiting clearance

7,739

9,610

8,487

7,671

Cleared funds awaiting distribution

6,416

14,189

11,012

10,718

Total

14,155

23,799

19,499

18,389

Notes:

1. Figures for March 2007 are not yet available for publication as they are subject to National Audit Office scrutiny ahead of the publication of the Agency’s 2007 annual report and accounts.

2. Cleared funds awaiting distribution include payments, which are in the process of being paid out but are subject to standard banking processing, which take three working days. It also includes cases for which further information is required before maintenance payments can be released.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what average time was taken for applications to the Child Support Agency to be processed from the initial application to clearance stage in each quarter since spring 2003; and what the average wait was for such cases. (136488)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, date 24 May 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, what average time was taken for applications to the Child Support Agency to be processed from the initial application to clearance stage in each quarter since spring 2003; and what the average wait was for such cases.

The latest statistics on the average age of clearances of New Scheme cases has been published in table 4 of the March 2007 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_mar07.asp.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications were made to the Child Support Agency in each quarter since spring 2003; and how many were (a) cleared for maintenance payments and (b) cleared for closure in each quarter. (136489)

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 24 May 2007:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications have been made to the Child Support Agency in each quarter since spring 2003; and of these how many have been (a) cleared for maintenance payments and (b) cleared for closure in each quarter.

The latest statistics on new scheme applications cleared and how they were cleared has been published in tables 2.3 and 2.4 of the March 2007 Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary Statistics.

A copy of this 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_mar07.asp

I hope you find this answer helpful

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the Child Support Agency expects to be able to secure maintenance payments in the case of the constituent of the hon. Member for Birkenhead Lyndsy Graves; and what the reasons are for the time taken to do so. (139036)

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 24 May 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 when the Child Support Agency expects to be able to secure maintenance payments in the case of the constituent of the hon. Member for Birkenhead, Lyndsy Graves; and what the reasons are for the time taken to do so. [139036]

As details about individual cases are confidential I have written to you separately about this case.