HC Deb 06 July 1993 vol 228 cc124-5W
Sir David Steel

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to change the process of maintenance allowance assessments to ensure that mothers who are out of work and wishing to receive an assessment do not have to wait longer than mothers who are in work.

Mr. Burt

The Child Support Agency is introducing the new child support maintenance arrangements from scratch and it would have been unrealistic to take on cases over a four-year period.

Parents with care who do not receive income support, family credit or disability working allowance and do not have an existing court order or other written maintenance agreement may apply to the agency immediately. Those with an order or agreement will be taken on by the agency between April 1996 and March 1997: in the interim, they may apply to a court for a variation in their order or agreement.

Parents with care who receive income support will be taken on over the three years to April 1996. Those who make a new claim to benefit will be taken on immediately. Existing cases will be taken on when there is a change of circumstances which affects maintenance or, if there is no such change, on a random basis.

Changes of circumstances do not affect the benefit payable to parents with care who receive family credit or disability working allowance since awards are fixed for six months. These cases will be asked to apply to the agency when they make a renewal claim—and are therefore new claimants—so take on of this group will be completed before the end of 1993.

We have no plans to change these arrangements.