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Children: Maintenance

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what guidance the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission has issued in fulfilment of its obligations under section 5 of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008; (249027)

(2) how many (a) parents with care and (b) non-resident parents have been referred by the Child Maintenance Options Service to the face-to-face service in each month since July 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of people who have made applications to the Child Support Agency since March 2003 have not yet received any maintenance payments; and if he will make a statement. (255262)

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 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 and what proportion of people who have made applications to the Child Support Agency since March 2003 have not yet received any maintenance payments; and if he will make a statement.

Table 2.1 of the December 2008 Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics (QSS) shows that 1,677,000 applications have been received between March 2003 and December 2008 under the current scheme. The QSS is available in the House of Commons library or online at:

http://www.childmaintenance.org/publications/statistics.html

Table 2.3 of the QSS shows that of the 1,677,000 applications received since March 2003, 39,600 cases with a positive maintenance assessment have still not resulted in a payment to the parent with care. This represents 2% of all applications received.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what criteria the Child Support Agency uses in determining whether a consolatory payment may be made; and if he will make a statement; (256032)

(2) how many (a) consolatory payments and (b) other compensatory payments the Child Support Agency has been made to residents of (i) Ribble Valley constituency, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) the UK in each of the last 10 years; and what the monetary value of such payments was in each such year;

(3) what the (a) highest and (b) average value of consolatory payments made by the Child Support Agency for maladministration was in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement;

(4) how many consolatory payments for maladministration were made by the Child Support Agency in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: 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 Questions about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the Minister promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what criteria the Child Support Agency uses in determining whether a consultancy payment may be made; and if he will make a statement. [256032] and:

How many (a) consolatory payments and (b) other compensatory payments the Child Support Agency has been made to residents of (i) Ribble Valley constituency (ii) Lancashire and (iii) the UK in each of the last 10 years; and what the monetary value of such payments was in each such year. [256136] and:

What the (a) highest and (b) average value of consolatory payments made by the Child Support Agency for maladministration was in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [256162] and:

How many consolatory payments for maladministration were made by the Child Support Agency in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [256163]

We spoke to your office who confirmed that, in parliamentary question number 256032, the word ‘consolatory’ should be substituted for ‘consultancy’.

Since the 1st November 2008, the Child Support Agency has been the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. The Commission is focused on providing high standards of customer service and seeks to provide rapid and satisfactory resolution of client complaints. In the event that official error or delay has had an adverse impact on a client, the Commission operates a discretionary scheme providing financial redress.

Consolatory payments form part of financial redress and are made by way of an apology for the handling of a client’s case. These payments are not usually large amounts but do acknowledge that a client’s case has not been handled as well as might have been expected. Consolatory payments are considered in very exceptional circumstances, where maladministration has had a direct adverse impact on the life of the client or, much more exceptionally, on that of another person, for example the client’s spouse. Each case is considered individually.

Information on the number of consolatory and compensatory payments made to residents in specific geographic areas is not available as the information is not routinely recorded in this format.

However, the remainder of the information requested regarding the total number of consolatory payments for residents of the UK and the highest, average and total amount of consolatory payments made for maladministration is presented in the attached tables. Information prior to December 2001 is not available, therefore the first full year is 2002/03.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Annex B

Consolatory payments (UK figures)

Consolatory

Financial loss

Compensation for delay

Value3 (£ million)

Number of payments2

Value3 (£ million)

Number of payments2

Value3 (£ million)

Number of payments2

2002-03

0.7

8,400

1.3

5,900

0.2

700

2003-04

0.4

5,600

1.4

4,900

0.1

800

2004-05

0.6

9,000

2.4

7,100

0.1

1,700

2005-06

0.6

9,200

3.1

5,900

0.2

2,100

2006-07

0.7

9,200

2.5

4,700

0.4

1,900

2007-08

0.7

9,300

3.4

4,700

0.4

1,900

Consolatory payments made for maladministration (UK figures)

Consolatory payments

Upper range of award (£)

Average payment1

Value3 (£ million)

Number of payments2

2002-03

1,550

78.00

0.7

8,400

2003-04

500

69.00

0.4

5,600

2004-05

1,000

65.00

0.6

9,000

2005-06

1,500

66.00

0.6

9,200

2006-07

1,000

72.00

0.7

9,200

2007-08

2,000

78.00

0.7

9,300

1 The figures for average payment are rounded to the nearest £1.

2 The figures for the total number of payments are rounded to the nearest 100.

3 The figures for the value of payment are rounded to the nearest £0.1 million.

Note:

Information prior to December 2001 is not available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many liability orders were issued in each region in each of the last three years by (a) his Department and (b) the (i) agencies and (ii) commissions for which he is accountable. (256242)

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 11 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1977-79W.