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Child Support Agency: Cost-effectiveness

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 28 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the cost-effectiveness of the operational improvement plan in place at the Child Support Agency. (242214)

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, what assessment he has made of the cost effectiveness of the operational improvement plan in place at the Child Support Agency. (242214)

The Operational Improvement Plan was launched in April 2006 and supported by £120 million of additional funding. The three-year plan aimed to improve the service the Child Support Agency was delivering to its clients and to deliver more money to more children, while the entire system of child maintenance was redesigned. The Agency is currently in the third and final year of the plan and while some challenges remain it is on course to meet all of the commitments that were made when the plan was launched.

As a result of the investment in the Operational Improvement Plan the Agency is now delivering its services far more efficiently and effectively. Indeed, after two-and-a-half years of the plan the number of uncleared cases has fallen significantly, from 284,400 cases that were outstanding in March 2006, to just 95,900 cases outstanding at the end of September 2008. The number of children who receive maintenance has also increased under the plan to a total of 778,200 children in the three months to the end of September, 155,200 more children than received maintenance in the three months to March 2006. In addition, the Agency collected and arranged £1.08 billion in child maintenance in the year to September 2008, which is a considerable increase from the £836 million that was collected in the year to March 2006.

The investment in the Operational Improvement Plan has resulted in more money for more children, and will provide a stable foundation on which the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission can build for the future.

I hope you find this answer helpful.