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Maintenance

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new cases have been brought to the Child Support Agency in the last 12 months; and how many of these cases the CSA has started maintenance payments. (243467)

[holding answer 15 December 2008]: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new cases were brought to the Child Support Agency (CSA) in the last 12 months; and in how many of these cases the CSA has started maintenance payments. [243467]

The information requested is provided in the attached table and is routinely published in tables 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics. The latest version is available in the House of Commons library or online at the following link:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/csa.asp

It should be noted that in July 2008 compulsion to use the Agency was lifted for all new parents with care claiming income based benefits. Prior to this a proportion of new applications received from Jobcentre Plus were in fact change of circumstances to existing cases or are actually closed prior to a maintenance schedule being set up. These applications are included in the attached table.

As there can be a delay between the time an application has been assessed, and maintenance requested and the receipt of the first payment of maintenance a larger proportion of applications made in recent months will therefore not yet have started payment. The number of applications resulting in a payment for recent months will therefore increase over time, and these figures will be revised in future versions of the Quarterly Summary of Statistics.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Number of current scheme applications cleared each month and the number of those that have resulted in a maintenance payment being made

Month

Applications cleared

Maintenance due8

Percentage

Payment received

Percentage

October 2007

29,000

9,300

32

8,200

88

November 2007

29,800

10,000

34

8,900

89

December 2007

20,400

7,000

34

6,200

89

January 2008

27,900

8,800

32

7,900

90

February 2008

30,700

9,300

30

8,300

89

March 2008

27,000

9,000

33

7,900

88

April 2008

28,000

9,200

33

7,900

86

May 2008

26,400

8,500

32

7,300

86

June 2008

30,400

8,900

29

7,400

83

July 2008

31,900

8,100

25

56,400

79

August 2008

420,900

45,100

24

53,200

563

September 2008

415,300

44,200

27

51,500

536

Notes:

1. Applications for the period include all applications from potential non-resident parents or parents with care as well as, for the period to 14 July 2008 all applications from Jobcentre Plus when a parent with care applies for benefits and their details are sent directly to the Agency. Many of these applications are in fact a change of circumstance on an existing case or are closed prior to a maintenance schedule being set up.

2. Applications resulting in a payment include cases both where a payment has been made through the Agency and where a maintenance direct agreement has been arranged between a non resident parent and parent with care.

3. This table consists of information already published in tables 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics.

4. From 14 July 2008, new benefit claimants were no longer compelled to use the Child Support Agency. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of applications and potential applications received from Jobcentre Plus and therefore the number of clearances.

5. A significant proportion of applications cleared and which have progressed to payments stage in August and September 2008 will not yet have received the first payment, the number of cases cleared in these months that subsequently receive payment will rise.

6. The figures in this table are a snapshot of the status of cases at the end of September 2008 and are therefore subject to revision.

7. This table counts applications for Child Support. Not all applications become live cases. Information on the number of cases that are progressed clerically is not included in this table.

8. Refers to cases assessed as initially having a positive maintenance liability, which also progress to payment stage, including Maintenance Direct Cases. It does not include cases initially assessed with a positive maintenance liability which are subsequently closed or reassessed as not having a maintenance liability.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission plans to take to speed up the enforcement process, with particular reference to non-compliant self-employed non-resident parents. (243883)

The administration of the child maintenance system is a matter for the Commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Committee plans to take to speed up the enforcement process, with particular reference to non-compliant self-employed non-resident parents. [243883]

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 will provide the Commission with tools to establish reliable collection as quickly as possible and enable it to streamline the enforcement process and take action at the earliest opportunity.

The Commission will be able to make deduction orders to administratively remove funds from bank accounts, either periodically or in a lump sum, without going to court. Deduction orders can be used in cases where a deduction from earnings order (currently the most important enforcement tool used by the Commission) cannot, for example because the non-resident parent is self-employed.

The requirement to apply to the courts for a liability order before taking enforcement action will be removed and replaced with an administrative process; and the procedure for registering liability orders in the county court will be rationalised enabling swifter more effective enforcement action to be taken.

I hope you find this answer helpful.