HL Deb 06 July 1995 vol 565 c95WA
Lord Houghton of Sowerby

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the approximate proportion of cases which when settled by the Child Support Agency result in a positive net increase in the resources available for the support of children.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish)

Parents have a responsibility to maintain their children. The agency is responsible for implementing the legislation which is aimed at providing such maintenance to relieve the burden which otherwise would fall on the taxpayers who also have children of their own to support. So, any money secured by the agency either benefits the parent with care and children directly or reduces benefit expenditure on those families which would otherwise arise.

All individual cases in which maintenance has been assessed by the agency have the opportunity to benefit from regular payments of maintenance. For parents in receipt of income support, it may not lead to an immediate net increase in their income, but it does provide a sound basis for their future personal and financial planning. The levels of maintenance will be reviewed at least every two years to reflect up to date circumstances.

Parents in receipt of family credit or disability working allowance, or not receiving any income related benefit will gain an immediate net increase in income from maintenance paid, subject to this exceeding any maintenance that was already in payment under a pre-CSA arrangement.

On this basis, we estimate that, where the amount of new maintenance arranged exceeds the pre-CSA maintenance, there has been a net increase in the resources available for the support of the children in almost 20 per cent. of cases assessed by the agency. During 1994–95, in some 77 per cent. of the cases taken on by the agency, no maintenance at all was being paid.