HC Deb 28 January 1997 vol 289 cc187-8W
17. Mr. Bayley

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to improve the administration of the Child Support Agency. [11385]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell

The Child Support Agency is performing well against its 1996–97 business plan. Further challenging targets seeking improvements in performance over and above that achieved this year will be set for 1997–98.

Mrs. Ewing

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans the Child Support Agency has to restore the charging of fees for assessment of clients after 17 April. [13216]

Mr. Mitchell

There are no plans to restore fees from April 1997. Regulations came into force in January 1997 which suspended fees for both the assessment and collection services for a further two years until April 1999.

Mr. Rooney

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discussions he has had on the involvement of the private sector in the running of the Child Support Agency; and which operations centre is under consideration for such involvement. [13031]

Mr. Mitchell

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive, Miss Ann Chant CB. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ann Chant to Mr. Terry Rooney, dated 27 January 1997: I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about Child Support Agency and the private sector. Consideration of the degree of scope for further private sector involvement in the provision of services is one of the components of the Agency's strategy to deliver efficiency savings in line with the Departmental Change Programme, but at the moment no decisions have been made and no individual business unit is under consideration. The private sector has always been involved in providing facilities management and other support services within the Agency. It also works with the Agency on a partnership basis in providing our Audit and Computer services and, more recently, Royal Mail have been contracted to open the post for all Child Support Agency Centres. Where there are sound business reasons, we will take full advantage of the relevant experience and skills of the private sector to help us further improve our performance. I hope this is helpful.