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Children: Maintenance

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of compliance rates for Child Support Agency maintenance paid by (a) manual means, (b) direct debit, (c) standing order, (d) maintenance direct, (e) deduction of earnings order, (f) deduction from benefits and (g) other means in the last 12 months; what proportion of total maintenance was paid by each method in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (146629)

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 11 July 2007:

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

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of compliance rates for Child Support Agency maintenance paid by (a) manual means (b) direct debit (c) standing order (d) maintenance direct (e) deduction of earnings order (f) deduction from benefits and (g) other means in the last 12 months; what proportion of total maintenance by paid by each method in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

The information requested on compliance rates can be obtained from table 10 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

Maintenance direct is a private arrangement between parents, and the agency assures compliance unless the arrangement breaks down.

The proportion of total maintenance paid by each method of collection is provided in the attached table.

I hope you find this helpful.

Proportion of total maintenance received in each month by method of collection: April 2006 to March 2007

Percentage

Deduction from Benefit

Deduction of Earning/Orders

Direct Debit

Manual

Standing Order

Maintenance Direct

Other

2006

April

1

27

11

11

18

32

0

May

1

29

11

10

17

30

0

June

1

30

11

10

17

31

0

July

1

30

11

9

17

32

0

August

1

29

11

10

17

32

0

September

1

28

11

9

17

33

0

October

1

29

11

9

17

32

1

November

1

29

11

9

16

33

0

December

1

26

11

9

17

35

1

2007

January

1

29

11

9

16

32

0

February

1

29

12

9

15

33

0

March

1

29

11

10

16

32

0

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest per cent. and may not sum to 100 as a result.

2. Proportions calculated based on the value of collections in each category.

3. The number of new Deduction from Earnings Order/Request (DEO/R) decreased in December 2006. This is due to a fix on the new computer system to suspend 8,500 ineffective Deduction from Earning Orders on cases where employers had informed the Agency that the non-resident parent on that case was no longer in their employment. Many of these had compliance restored through DEO/Rs in January 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken to reduce the backlog of cases awaiting action by the Child Support Agency. (146721)

[holding answer 29 June 2007]: 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 11 July 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 steps are being taken to reduce the backlog of cases awaiting action by the Child Support Agency.

Processing applications commences on receipt and at any time the number of unprocessed applications the Agency holds is negligible. An application is described as cleared once the maintenance calculation has been made and payment schedule established or if work on it is completed for another reason (e.g. if it is withdrawn).

Given the necessity of locating the non-resident parent, establishing parentage, obtaining income details etc. the Agency will always have a number of uncleared applications. The Agency's Operational Improvement Plan, announced last February, includes a commitment to reduce the number of uncleared applications and reduce the time taken to clear new intake.

Significant progress has been made in this area. In March 2007 the volume of uncleared new scheme applications stood at 156,000. This is a fall of 65,000 since March 2006, equivalent to a 29 per cent. reduction and the percentage cleared within 12 weeks has increased from 53 per cent. to 61 per cent.

The Agency is confident that it will be able to meet the new Secretary of State target to reduce uncleared new scheme applications to 140,000 and further increase clearance rates by the end of this operational year.

I hope you find this answer helpful.