Skip to main content

Children: Maintenance

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to paragraph 13 of the National Audit Office report, Child Support Agency—Implementation of the Child Support Reforms, HC1174, Session 2005-06, how many cases are now estimated to be stuck in the system. (279055)

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, with reference to paragraph 13 of the National Audit Office report Child Support Agency—Implementation of the Child Support Reforms published on 30 June 2006 how many cases are now estimated to be stuck in the system. [279055]

The paragraph from the 2006 National Audit office report you have referenced sets out the Agency's estimate of the number of cases at the end of March 2006 affected by problems in the Agency's computer system which require cases to be progressed clerically. The Commission continues to publish information on the number of cases which are processed wholly clerically in Table 20 of the Child Support Agency's Quarterly Summary of Statistics; a copy of which is available in the House of Commons library, or online at:

www.childmaintenance.org/publications/statistics.html

The number of cases the Agency managed wholly clerically at the end of March 2009 was 60,000. Although the need to progress such cases clerically is not ideal, they should not be seen as stuck as around £1 million in child maintenance is now collected each week for these cases.

Upgrades to the Agency's computer system one of which was also mentioned in paragraph 13 of the National Audit Office report and implemented successfully in September 2008 have reduced the incidence of cases being affected by problems and made it possible to identify and address problems more easily. At the end of March 2009, an estimated 27,500 cases which remain on the computer system also require partial clerical action to keep maintenance flowing to children. As the Agency continues to improve its client service, increasing the number of cases receiving maintenance, any additional cases identified are immediately investigated and either progressed clerically or the issue is resolved to allow the case to be wholly managed by the Agency's computer system.

The number of cases managed clerically will therefore continue to rise in the medium term and information on the numbers so progressed will be published.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much (a) debt and (b) cumulative debt resulting from arrears attributed to the non-resident parent accrued to the Child Support Agency in each year since 1993. (279844)

[holding answer 15 June 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 (a) debt and (b) cumulative debt resulting from arrears attributed to the non-resident parent accrued to the Child Support Agency in each year since 1993. [279844]

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission regularly publish information on the amount of child maintenance arrears outstanding at the end of each year as well as the overall growth in debt each year in Table 22 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics (QSS). This information is only available from April 1999.

The latest copy of the Quarterly Summary of Statistics is available in the House of Commons library or online at:

www.childmaintenance.org/publications/statistics.html

The information that you have requested on the amount of arrears accruing in each year is not included in this table and the Agency can only provide an estimate for each year from March 2007. The attached table sets out both the estimated amount of new child maintenance arrears accruing in each year and the estimated amount by which arrears have been reduced. Arrears can be reduced either through repayment or where information has been provided to allow the case to be reassessed and the amount of arrears subsequently restated.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Child Maintenance Arrears

March

2007

2008

2009

Arrears total (£ billion)

3.67

3.79

3.84

Arrears increase (£ million)

n/a

484

405

Arrears reduction (£ million)

n/a

-363

-362

Notes:

1. Movement in arrears components is based on an estimate from internal figures and is only available from March 2007, so only two years of information can be provided.

2. Arrears on each case have been calculated in the year to March 2007, March 2008 and March 2009. From this, each case has been classified as seeing an increase or a decrease in arrears across each year. The value of this increase or reduction has also been calculated.

3. This will only take into account the net arrears movement across the year and may miss some payments that have subsequently been cancelled out by further increases in debt within the year.

4. The figures for March 2009 are at the time of answering this question un-audited internal figures and are subject to revision which will be published in the CSA Annual Report and Accounts for 2008-09.