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Children: Maintenance

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the time taken to pay child support to parents with care whose cases are being dealt with clerically and where maintenance has been paid to the agency by the non-resident parent or via his employer as a result of a deduction from earnings order; and if he will make a statement. (181254)

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 13 March 2008:

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 assessment he has made of the time taken to pay child support to parents with care whose cases are being dealt with clerically and where maintenance has been paid to the Agency by the non-resident parent or via his employer as a result of a deduction from earnings order; and if he will make a statement. [181254]

Child maintenance applications are processed clerically where, due to technical issues, they cannot be advanced on our computer system. Payments received in these cases are paid out normally one day later than non-clerical cases.

However, as can be the case with a manual process, there are some occasions when individual payments require additional investigation to ensure that the right money is passed to the right client.

The Agency takes steps to ensure that the allocation of receipts is strictly controlled, and that delays are kept to an absolute minimum.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of all current Child Support Agency cases have (a) been subject to maladministration, (b) had incorrect maintenance calculations and (c) arrears outstanding; and what proportion of cases are subject to (i) (a) and (b) above, (ii) (a) and (c) above, (iii) (b) and (c) above and (iv) all three conditions above. (185120)

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 13 March 2008:

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 number and proportion of all current Child Support Agency cases have (a) been subject to maladministration (b) had incorrect maintenance calculations and (c) arrears outstanding; and what proportion of cases are subject to (i) (a) and (b) above (ii) (a) and (c) above (iii) (b) and (c) above and (iv) all three conditions above. [185120]

The Agency does not record information on individual cases in such a way as to allow the analysis you have requested to be carried out. Information concerning maladministration, accuracy of maintenance calculations and outstanding arrears comes from several different information flows, therefore we cannot generate robust data concerning the proportion of cases affected by all three. The Agency can, however, provide the following information, which I hope is of use.

In 2006/07, the Agency made consolatory payments due to maladministration in 15,420 cases.

Between April 2007 and December 2007, a sample of 4,300 cases was checked for accuracy, of which 87% were found to have an assessment which was accurate to the nearest penny. Information on the accuracy of assessments is routinely published in Table 17 of the Quarterly Summary of Statistics.

As at November 2007 there were 1,220,200 current Child Support cases with an assessment or calculation. 781,900 of these cases had debt outstanding. This equates to 64 per cent of the current caseload. Most cases accrue debt once an assessment or calculation has been carried out. The effective date of the assessment or calculation is often backdated and debt accrues from the effective date.

I hope you find this answer helpful.