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Children: Maintenance

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much is outstanding in child support payments under the (a) former and (b) new child support scheme; over how many years such outstanding monies have been accumulated; and how many individuals are due payments in each category. (268746)

[holding answer 20 April 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 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 is outstanding in child support payments under the (a) former and (b) new child support scheme; over how many years such outstanding monies have been accumulated; and how many individuals are due payments in each category. [268746]

The information that the Child Support Agency holds on outstanding child support payments relates to cases rather than individuals. It should be noted that an individual may have more than one case. The latest information available shows that at the end of December 2008, £3.8 billion was owed in child maintenance by non-resident parents in a total of 1.1 million cases. Of this, almost £800 million of arrears was recorded on 555,000 cases administered under the current scheme, accruing each year since the 2003 and over £3 billion of arrears was recorded on 543,000 cases administered under the old scheme, accruing each year since 1993.

The Child Support Agency routinely publishes information relating to the amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding at the end of each financial year in Table 22 of the December 2008 Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics (QSS). The latest copy of which is available in the House of Commons library, or via the internet at:

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

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have had refunds from the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission for overpayments made to it and its predecessor during the last 12 months. (269309)

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 child maintenance, 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 people have had refunds from the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) for overpayments made to it and its predecessor during the last 12 months. [269309]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission does not collate information on the number of people who have received a refund of maintenance. However I am able to tell you that in the 12 months to the end on March 2009, around £6.5m was refunded, less than 1% of the total collected. A refund may be appropriate in cases where a change of circumstances or additional information has resulted in a reduction to the maintenance assessment/calculation and maintenance has already been received for the period in question. A refund is only made where there are no outstanding child maintenance arrears.

I am sorry that I could not be more helpful on this occasion.