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Children: Maintenance

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Child Support Agency cases have been outstanding for more than (a) one year and (b) five years. (154671)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Duncan Gilchrist, dated 10 October 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 the Chief Executive is currently on annual leave, I am responding, with his authority, on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Child Support Agency cases have been outstanding for more than (a) one year and (b) five years.

The Agency begins to process new applications as soon as they are received and continues until they have been cleared. Any applications that have not yet been cleared have been regarded as outstanding in the answer to this question. The amount of work required to achieve clearance and the elapsed time it involves varies considerably depending on, amongst other things, the circumstances of the parents and how readily they cooperate with the Agency. As such, the Agency holds only a negligible number of completely unprocessed applications.

At June 2007 the Agency had 39,600 old scheme and 74,400 new scheme uncleared cases over one year old, this represents 8% of total caseload. Of those 33,300 old scheme and 1,500 new scheme uncleared cases were over five years old, this represents 3% of total caseload.

A potential new application is defined as cleared when it:

has had a calculation and a payment arrangement set up (new scheme only) or has had an assessment (old scheme only);

has been closed;

has been identified as having had a good cause decision accepted;

has been identified as being subject to a reduced benefit decision;

has been identified as a change of circumstances to an existing case, as opposed to a new application (new scheme only).

I hope you find this answer helpful.