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Vertex Data Science

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what representations he has received on the performance of Vertex Data Science Ltd in providing services at the Child Support Agency centre in Bolton; (212020)

(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Vertex Data Science Ltd in delivering the objectives of the Child Support Agency;

(3) what representations he has received on the retention of staff by Vertex Data Science Ltd at the Child Support Agency’s offices in Bolton.

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 23 June 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 representations he has received on the performance of Vertex Data Science Ltd in providing services at the Child Support Agency centre in Bolton. [212020];

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Vertex Data Science Ltd in delivering the objectives of the Child Support Agency. [212022]; and

What representations he has received on the retention of staff by Vertex Data Science Ltd at the Child Support Agency’s offices in Bolton. [212025]

Vertex Data Science Ltd. manages the CSA Bolton site, a unit the Agency established to deal with cases which for technical reasons can not be processed on the new computer system (CS2) and therefore need to be administered clerically. By moving all the clerical work undertaken by the Agency to this one site from September 2006, the Agency was able to release people to focus on other improvement work outlined in the Operational Improvement Plan, including reducing the number of uncleared applications and strengthening enforcement. This has contributed to the Agency meeting or exceeding all of its 2007/08 Secretary of State targets and collecting over £1 billion in child maintenance for over 750,000 children.

Since September 2006, Vertex has arranged and collected more than £40 million of maintenance payments. While the arrangement has contributed to the Agency’s improvement, there have also been some operational issues which have impacted on client service. The Agency took steps to ensure that our service to clients improved by renegotiating the contract with Vertex to allow them to focus on keeping maintenance flowing to children. The Agency also increased its resource dedicated to progressing clerical cases by retaining responsibility for new clerical cases until first payment stage.

In addition, all complaints with MP or Independent Case Examiner involvement, as well as those cases that require a review are now being dealt with by specialist caseworkers within the Agency. Clerical cases represent less than three per cent of all assessed cases. While the administration of these cases will continue to present a challenge, the Agency is continually working with its contractors to improve the service to these clients.

The Agency is committed to implementing an IT upgrade which will introduce a series of system checkpoints, reducing the number of stuck cases which currently need to be administered clerically.

The retention of employees at CSA Bolton is a matter for Vertex Data Science Ltd as they are responsible for employing the people required to deliver the service, under the contract which currently runs to September 2008.

I hope you find this answer helpful.