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Children: Maintenance

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the value of child maintenance arrears owed by non-resident parents to children in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency was in each year since 1997. (200088)

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 Susan Park, dated 15 May 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. 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, what the value of child maintenance arrears owed by non-resident parents to children in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency was in each year since 1997. [200088]

Information on the value of child maintenance debt is only available for cases managed by the new computer system (CS2) at constituency level from February 2007.

The amount of debt on the new computer (CS2) owed by non-resident parents where the parent with care lives in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency was £2,194,000 at March 2007 and £2,535,000 at March 2008. The latest figures for March 2008 are un-audited and subject to change. Final national figures will be published with the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts later this year.

This debt has accrued over the 15 years of the Child Support Agency's operation and is owed by non-resident parents as a result of their failure to meet their responsibilities to their children. Some non-resident parents do their utmost to avoid their responsibilities, for example by moving house or changing jobs whenever the Agency tries to collect maintenance.

The Agency has collected and arranged a record breaking £1.01 billion in child maintenance in the year to March 2008, of which £126m was arrears. This improving performance will provide a stable foundation on which the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission can build.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of parents with care claiming income support received child maintenance in each month since 2003. (200810)

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 Susan Park, dated 15 May 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. 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, what proportion of parents with care claiming income support received child maintenance in each month since 2003. [200810]

The proportion of child maintenance cases with a positive maintenance outcome, where the parent with care is claiming income support is provided in the attached table. It should be noted that the information the Agency holds relates to cases only. A parent with care can have more than one child maintenance case. Benefits data is only available on a quarterly basis and the latest available data covers the period to May 2007.

Maintenance outcomes—cases in receipt of income support.

This table shows the number of cases where the parent with care is in receipt of income support and where a payment was received or which had a Maintenance Direct arrangement in place over a three month period. This is presented as a proportion of the total number of cases which have a positive maintenance liability or on which a payment was made. This relates to the Secretary of State target for 2007-08 on Maintenance Outcomes.

Date

Child maintenance cases (%)

February 2003

60

May 2003

62

August 2003

58

November 2003

55

February 2004

54

May 2004

53

August 2004

53

November 2004

51

February 2005

51

May 2005

53

August 2005

53

November 2005

54

February 2006

54

May 2006

57

August 2006

58

November 2006

58

February 2007

57

May 2007

58

Notes to table:

1. Table shows proportion of cases from which a payment was received including Maintenance Direct, as a proportion of the total number of cases with a positive maintenance liability, where the parent with care is claiming income support.

2. A parent with care is deemed to be in receipt of income support if they or their partner is claiming income support.

3. Benefits data is only available on a quarterly basis.

4. Latest available benefits data is at May 2007.

5. Figures rounded to nearest whole per cent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what safeguards for children will be in place if the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission uses bailiffs to seize non-payers' property. (205923)

The Commission will be required, as the Child Support Agency is now, to have regard to the welfare of any child likely to affected by any discretionary decision such as the decision to enforce the collection of maintenance arrears through the use of bailiffs. All bailiff firms, including those contracted to the Agency, must comply with the National Standards for Enforcement Agents, a set of common standards produced by the Government as a code of practice.