HC Deb 23 February 1998 vol 307 c16
16. Mr. Bob Russell

How many new cases she expects the Child Support Agency to deal with over the next year; and what changes in staffing (a) structures and (b) numbers she will implement to manage demand. [29090]

Mr. Keith Bradley

In 1998–99, we expect the agency to clear about 560,000 maintenance applications, an increase of more than 56 per cent. compared with the number cleared in 1996–97.

The agency is reorganising itself over the next year to move more staff on to front-line work and to improve telephone contact with customers. In addition, it will centralise work that does not require face-to-face contact with the public.

Those changes will allow the agency to increase staffing levels by 300 by March 1999 while saving £5 million in administrative expenditure.

Mr. Russell

The Minister of State said earlier that Parliament has sleepwalked into the nightmare of the CSA. Is it not time to stop the Rip van Winkle approach to the CSA, bearing in mind the fact that in one year Members of Parliament deal with 18,000 cases? Will the Government provide additional staff to ease the work load of hon. Members dealing with CSA cases?

Mr. Bradley

Rip van Winkle woke up on 1 May. The Government are undertaking a thorough review of the CSA, as my right hon. Friend the Minister for Welfare Reform explained. We will present proposals in the summer and the points raised by the hon. Gentleman will form part of the review.