To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission research to examine whether the recent reduction in applications to the Child Support Agency (CSA) is caused by poorer parents with care who are in difficult relationships with their former partners not applying for CSA help. [HL6165]
Research is underway to provide, amongst other things, more detail on the economic situation of parents and their views on relationships with former partners. This will provide a much broader view of the different types of maintenance arrangements made by different socio-economic groups within the population and their effectiveness. Research findings are planned for the spring/summer of 2010.
Information relating to outstanding child maintenance arrears is routinely published on page 20 of the Child Support Agency's Quarterly Summary Statistics; the latest version of which is available in the House of Commons Library or online at: http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/pdf/qss/QSS 0909.pdf.
Latest figures show that in September 2009 the amount of outstanding child maintenance arrears was £3,796 million, a decrease from £3,811 million in June 2009. These figures are unaudited, pending the publication of the Client Funds Accounts.
Arrears are owed by non-resident parents as a result of their failure to meet their responsibilities to their children. £152 million child maintenance arrears have been collected in the 12 months to September 2009. The new enforcement powers set out in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 will give the commission the tools it needs to further increase compliance.
Quarterly figures as at the end of September 2009 show 73 per cent of cases handled by the CSA where maintenance was due were receiving maintenance. Cases are counted as having a positive maintenance outcome if they have received a payment via the collection service in the quarter or have a maintenance direct agreement in place.
The commission, with the Department for Work and Pensions, is in the process of commissioning work to build an annual survey which will provide an estimate of the number of separated families and the proportion with effective arrangements. This will include arrangements made privately.