HC Deb 28 October 1996 vol 284 cc30-1W
Sir Roger Sims

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what reports he has received recently concerning the performance of the Child Support Agency. [1095]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has recently received two reports, both of which are being placed in the Library today. These are the annual report for 1995–96 from the chief child support officer and the mid-year report of the Child Support Agency.

The CSA's mid-year report shows that by the end of September maintenance totalling more than £183 million had been collected or arranged by the agency and that it was clearly on course to meet the target of £380 million to £400 million for the year. In September, 80 per cent. of assessments were correct to the nearest penny and 98 per cent. of payments received from absent parents were paid over to the parent with care within 10 working days. In addition, the report shows the agency's commitment to prompt enforcement action by issuing over 25,000 deductions from earnings orders and applying for over 1,000 liability orders against non-compliant absent parents.

The CCSO's report for 1995–96 shows continued improvement over the standards of adjudication for the first two years of the agency's operation. The CCSO, who is independent of the CSA and Ministers, acknowledges the progress made and the dedication of agency staff at all levels towards securing better standards of adjudication. He also points out that the agency's assessment of accuracy and the assessment of his own monitors are now broadly in line.

Both reports clearly indicate that the CSA has turned the corner in terms of its performance over the last 18 months and that it continues to make very encouraging progress, with substantial improvements in many areas. We shall be looking to the agency to continue this much-needed improvement, meet its end-of year targets and deliver an ever-improving and more efficient service.

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