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Children: Maintenance

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many parents with care were owed Child Support Agency maintenance arrears in each month since May 1997; (242094)

(2) what the average amount of Child Support Agency maintenance arrears owed to parents with care was per case in each month since May 1997;

(3) what the average amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding was on all Child Support Agency cases with maintenance outstanding in each month since May 1997.

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 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 many parents with care were owed Child Support Agency maintenance arrears in each month since May 1997 [242094];

What the average amount of Child Support Agency maintenance arrears owed to parents with care was per case in each month since May 1997 [242095]; and

What the average amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding was on all Child Support Agency cases with maintenance outstanding in each month since May 1997. [242192]

The analysis required to respond to your questions is only available on information held from March 2007. Such information as is currently available is provided in the attached table.

It should be noted that the majority of child maintenance cases will have some debt. In particular all new cases will accrue debt unless the non-resident parent provides support while the liability is being assessed. In addition around a third of non-resident parents fail to regularly pay the maintenance they should and this debt will continue to accrue. Therefore where there are maintenance arrears the average amount owed to parents with care is around £2,600, although in fact around a quarter of all cases with arrears owe less than £170 or less than two monthly maintenance payments.

In the twelve months to September 2008 the Agency collected £1,088 million in child maintenance, of which £149 million was arrears. In the month of September 2008 alone, the Agency collected or arranged £98.7 million in maintenance of which £14.6 million was arrears. This is the highest level of maintenance and arrears collected or arranged by the Agency in one month ever.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act strengthens the range of enforcement and debt management powers available to the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. These will be used to enable the Commission to more effectively recover outstanding debt.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Open cases with outstanding maintenance arrears from March 2007 to September 2008. This includes those cases without outstanding arrears at September 2008.

Month

Cases without outstanding arrears1

Cases with arrears due to parent with care2

Average arrears owed to parent with care2 (£)

Average total arrears3 (£)

March 2007

636,500

2,700

3,700

June 2007

656,600

2,700

3,700

September 2007

670,600

2,700

3,600

December 2007

686,800

2,600

3,600

March 2008

697,100

2,600

3,500

June 2008

711,800

2,600

3,500

September 2008

563,000

718,800

2,600

3,500

1 Refers to open cases including those without a current liability.

2 Information provided only includes open cases including those without a current liability where debt is owed to the parent with care. This excludes debt owed to the Secretary of State as well as some cases where the parent with care owes money.

3 Includes total debt on open cases including those without a current liability which is owed by non resident parents to the parent with care and/or Secretary of State. This excludes debt where money is owed to the non-resident parent.

Notes:

1. Data only available from March 2007 onwards.

2. All figures rounded to nearest 100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what the largest amount of maintenance arrears outstanding on a single case with the Child Support Agency was in each month in each year since May 1997; (242195)

(2) what the largest amount of maintenance arrears which the Child Support Agency has requested be settled in full was in each of the last 24 months.

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 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, what is the largest amount of maintenance arrears outstanding on a single case with the Child Support Agency in each

month in each year since May 1997 [242195] and

What is the largest amount of maintenance arrears which the Child Support Agency has requested be settled in full in each of the last 24 months. [242196]

The Agency cannot comment on individual cases and this extends to an individual not being able to identify themselves in public statistics. As data disclosure exemptions prevent the supply of information on an individual case being published in the public domain, information is provided in the attached table on the average debt owed by non-resident parents, taken from the top five per cent of cases in each month from March 2007. This includes a small enough percentage of cases to accurately represent the highest debt cases but a high enough number of cases not to disclose an individuals details.

Information is not available on the largest amount of arrears requested to be settled in full as this is not routinely recorded by the Agency.

The average debt owed by non-resident parents, taken from the top 5 per cent. of cases in each month from March 2007.

Number of cases

Average debt (£)

March 2007

49,500

32,400

April 2007

50,000

32,300

May 2007

50,600

32,200

Jun 2007

51,000

32,000

July 2007

51,300

32,000

August 2007

51,800

31,800

September 2007

52,100

31,800

October 2007

52,500

31,700

November 2007

52,800

31,600

December 2007

53,200

31,500

January 2008

53,300

31,500

February 2008

53,000

31,500

March 2008

53,900

31,400

April 2008

54,200

31,300

May 2008

54,500

31,300

June 2008

54,800

31,300

July 2008

55,100

31,200

August 2008

55,000

31,300

September 2008

54,600

31,400

Notes:

1. Only includes cases with a positive debt owed by the non-resident parent. Some cases have a 'negative' debt where money is owed to the non resident parent.

2. Figures are extracted from the Agency's debt book. This is only available from March 2007.