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School Leaving

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effect on child support cases of having a different school leaving age in England and other parts of the United Kingdom; (165771)

(2) whether he will seek to amend the definition of child in article 55 of the Child Support Act 1991 in line with the Government's proposals to raise the minimum age to which young people must stay in education or training; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will assess the effect of the Government's proposals to raise the minimum age to which young people must stay in education or training on the projected caseload of (a) the Child Support Agency and (b) the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; and if he will make a statement.

The details of the Government's proposals to raise the school leaving age are currently being developed. However we intend to continue to mirror child benefit provisions in the definition of a child for child maintenance purposes.

If young people in England are required to stay at school or in training until they are 17 or 18, we anticipate that non-resident parents will still be liable for maintenance until the young person leaves school or training. Young people in other parts of the UK who can choose to leave education or training at 16 will cease to receive maintenance should they do so.

The Government's proposals on raising the school leaving age are due to take effect from 2013, by which time we anticipate that child maintenance cases will largely be subject to the new scheme's rules.

With the increased focus on voluntary arrangements and the ending of the requirement that parents with care on benefit be treated as applying for child maintenance, not all of the current Child Support Agency caseload will choose to use the statutory maintenance service and be subject to the new scheme's rules. Since we do not know the precise composition of the resulting caseload, it is not possible to estimate the impact on those existing cases on moving to the Commission.