§ Earl Russell
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether, in assessing the performance of the Child Support Agency, they will compare the amount of maintenance recovered not only with the amounts 117WA required under British legislation, but also with the sums actually recovered in other comparable countries.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)
Absent parents should pay the maintenance they owe, and we will ensure that the Child Support Agency takes appropriate action to ensure that they do. We do keep in touch with developments with other countries and to make comparisons where appropriate. However, direct comparisons with other countries can be difficult since no two systems are the same and the respective debts may be calculated differently. In the United States of America, for example, there are broad Federal guidelines for child support within which states are free to develop their own systems, which may include a large amount of discretion over the child support levied. In Australia, only that portion of the debt (excluding charges and penalties broadly equivalent to Interim Maintenance Assessments) estimated to be collectible is reported.