For the 1993 and 2003 child maintenance schemes, the preferred method of contact is by telephone—simply because of the sensitive nature of the material, which would otherwise have to be e-mailed. However, the ability to provide electronic communication is being embedded into the design of the 2012 scheme.
I was very surprised when my constituent, Louise Cawser, was told by the agency that she could not deal with it by e-mail, because there was no effective tool to provide sufficient security. Given the drive across government as a whole and in various agencies to consult electronically, will the Minister provide some reassurance to clients of the Child Support Agency about how this will develop in the future?
Yes, I am pleased to say that, starting later this year, clients on the 2012 system will have the equivalent of internet banking, so they will be able to log on, see their account and report changes of circumstances. We will close all existing cases over the next few years, and those who want to remain in the statutory system will move on to the 2012 system and they will have that service available to them.