HC Deb 04 November 1993 vol 231 cc389-90W
Mr. Channon

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what targets the Child Support Agency has set itself to ensure maintenance payments in cases of parents flouting any order made by the courts;

(2) what proportion of staff and resources of the Child Support Agency is being directed to the cases of parents who are already making maintenance payments as a result of a court order;

(3) how many cases of fathers not making any maintenance payments the Child Support Agency is pursuing; and if he will make a statement about its success in such cases.

Mr. Burt

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the right hon. Member and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Letter from Ms R. Hepplewhite to Mr. Paul Channon, dated 4 November 1993: As Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking a number of questions about the Agency's operations. You ask about parents who fail to comply with orders made by the courts and action taken by the Agency where fathers fail to pay maintenance. I should explain that the Agency is concerned only with pursuing maintenance in those cases for which we have accepted responsibility under the take on arrangements which are being phased in over a period of four years. We will pursue all those cases where we have made an assessment and the absent parent has subsequently failed to pay maintenance. Individual cases where payments are not made timeously are identified for follow up action but information on payments and arrears for the Agency as a whole is not yet available in a form which can be summarised. I am sorry that the precise information about previous court orders for which you ask is not available as the Child Support Computer System, upon which the work of the Agency is based, records the information which is relevant to the calculation of a maintenance assessment. Information on previous court orders is not therefore collected. Under the take on arrangements, we have already issued 527,000 Maintenance Application Forms and have made assessments in over 36,000 cases. Among those will be clients who already receive maintenance but we cannot separately identify what resources are applied specifically in such cases. I am sorry I cannot be more helpful but I hope you will find this explanation useful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.

Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the estimated reduction in expenditure on each social security benefit resulting from the operation of the Child Support Agency in 1993–94; and what proportion this represents, in total, of the maintenance payments resulting from the agency's assessments.

Mr. Burt

It is estimated that Child Support Agency operations in 1993–94 will reduce income support expenditure by £500 million. This includes an amount for parents with care who cease to claim income support due to maintenance related activity of the agency. Family credit and disability working allowance expenditure is estimated to reduce by £30 million.

The proportion of total maintenance assessed by the Child Support Agency which is estimated to be recovered through reduced benefit payments is 90 per cent.