§ Mr. Burt
The latest available information, collected in August 1993, indicates that deductions from income support in place of payments of child maintenance, at the standard rate of £2.20 a week, were being made from 1,522 absent parents. This information is taken from the management information statistics collated by the Benefits Agency, and is provisional.
§ Mr. Channon
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the recent case in Teesside county court involving the Child Support Agency; and if he will take steps to clarify the legal position of fathers who are already making maintenance payments as a result of a court order or an agreement made between the parties concerned.
§ Mr. Burt
Under child support legislation, parents with care not on income support, family credit or disability working allowance and who have a court order or written maintenance agreement will be able to apply to the agency between April 1996 and March 1997, and not before. Where a relevant benefit is in payment, the case will be taken on by the agency before April 1996, regardless of whether there is an existing court order or written maintenance agreement.
The case before the Teesside combined court involved a parent with care not receiving relevant benefit who had previously sought to have her existing court order revoked so that she could apply to the agency before 1996. It is for the courts to decide whether, in any particular case, it is appropriate for them to revoke an existing court order. I 845W welcome the court's decision and although it sets no precedent, it may discourage others from attempting to jump the queue.