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Child Support Agency: ICT

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 21 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how much the most recent Child Support Agency computer update cost; (240288)

(2) what the Child Support Agency caseload was on the most recent date for which figures are available; and what the caseload is expected to be once the update of the Agency's IT systems is fully implemented.

I have been asked to reply.

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, dated 21 January 2009:

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 as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much the most recent Child Support Agency computer update cost [240288]; and

You also asked what the Child Support Agency caseload was on the most recent date for which figures are available; and what the caseload is expected to be once the update of the Agency's IT systems is fully implemented. [240289]

The most recent update to the Child Support Agency's computer systems was successfully implemented on 27th October 2008. This update supported the repeal of Section 6 to the Child Support Act 1991, which removed the compulsion from parents with care in receipt of income based benefits to make a claim for child maintenance through the Child Support Agency. The cost of this upgrade to our system is estimated at around £7m however final invoices have yet to be received from our IT suppliers.

At the end of September 2008, the latest date that figures are available, the Agency had a total of 1,339,600 cases registered as live across the CSCS and CS2 computer systems. The Agency also had a total of 44,000 live clerical cases of which a significant number will be included in the cases shown as registered on the computer systems. These are cases which are being progressed clerically but remain registered on the computer systems.

The repeal of Section 6 allows all parents to choose the child maintenance arrangements that best suit their circumstances, whether private arrangements or through the statutory maintenance schemes. The size of the future caseload of the statutory maintenance schemes is therefore dependant on the choices that parents make. Information on the size of the Agency's caseload is published each quarter in the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics and the next edition containing information on the impact of the recent changes is due to be published at the end of January 2009.

I hope you find this answer helpful.