Skip to main content

Child Support Agency

Volume 483: debated on Monday 24 November 2008

10. What progress has been made on the Child Support Agency’s transition to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. (237971)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission took responsibility for the Child Support Agency from 1 November 2008, and is on track to meet its target for this financial year, which was set by the Department for Work and Pensions.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. During its existence, the CSA collected more than £6 billion, but billions more are still uncollected. Will that debt pass to the new commission, and will the commission’s new powers cover that debt, or will it be written off?

No part of the targets that I have just mentioned, which were set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, include collecting more of the debt—another £70 million for this year, raising the sum to £1.08 billion in this financial year. The commission’s new powers are not in force yet, but we expect it to raise the amount of debt that is collected even further.

Does the Minister accept that many Members receive a large number of letters and representations from our constituents about the CSA? I am genuinely seeking information on this issue: what size is the backlog of cases as the CSA is transferred to the new body? The issue is critical, as many of my constituents wait a long time to get the maintenance that they require.

I am extremely happy to write to the hon. Gentleman and let him know exactly how many uncleared applications remain in the system. I can tell him, however, that this year we think that 40,000 more children will benefit; the number is already up 200,000 in the last three years, and the target is 790,000 children benefiting by the end of this financial year. We are also, of course, introducing a disregard for benefits claimants so that the whole operation of the child maintenance system will contribute directly to our child poverty targets—something that the hon. Gentleman’s party did not even seek to influence when it introduced the CSA in the first place.