HC Deb 10 March 1998 vol 308 cc172-3W
Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average length of time between the Child Support Agency receiving an application and a maintenance award being made(a) in all cases and (b) in cases where the absent parent is an absent parent to more than one parent with care. [28596]

Mr. Keith Bradley

Information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

We are looking for substantial and sustained operational improvements from the Child Support Agency, in particular on getting more maintenance paid, reducing the backlog and improving customer service.

The Child Support Agency aims to clear 60 per cent. of new maintenance applications within 26 weeks of receipt. In the current year, performance has been affected by the clearance of a substantial number of older cases. Nevertheless, in the months from April to the end of December 1997, 72 per cent. of maintenance applications were cleared within 26 weeks. A special exercise carried out by Departmental statisticians indicated that, including cases from the backlog, the median clearance time for those that resulted in a maintenance assessment for the three months ending 30 November 1997 was 37 weeks. Currently, around a third of all applications cleared by the Agency result in a maintenance assessment.

Average clearance times are not available for cases where a non-resident parent has more than one parent with care.

Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if, in a case where two parents with care make application to the Child Support Agency, with respect to the same absent parent, the first parent with care is given priority over the second; [28598]

(2) what measures she proposes to take in cases where the absent parent is an absent parent to more than one parent with care, and when the second parent with care makes application to the CSA before the first parent with care's application is processed. [28597]

Quarter Appeals heard Percentage of Child Support Officer's decisions upheld 1 Cases awaiting hearing Average clearance time (weeks)
October to December 1993 22 50 586 n/a
January to March 1994 58 55.1 1,694 n/a
April to June 1994 161 51.5 2,538 n/a
July to September 1994 248 40.3 3,480 n/a
October to December 1994 437 33.4 4,337 n/a
January to March 1995 593 29 4,994 n/a
April to June 1995 941 24.3 4,637 n/a
July to September 1995 879 16.7 4,400 n/a
October to December 1995 1,010 14.3 4,474 42.58
January to March 1996 1,563 16.2 4,347 40.29
April to June 1996 1,845 15.3 3,734 36.32
July to September 1996 1,511 14.8 3,815 32.4
October to December 1996 1,559 16.5 3,957 30.46
January to March 1997 1,741 17.9 3,904 27.48
April to June 1997 1,865 18.8 3,875 27.79
July to September 1997 2,345 22.8 4,037 25.36
1The percentage figures are calculated by including all cases cleared at hearing, adjourned and postponed.


  1. 1.There was a total of 16,778 appeals heard between 1 October 1993 and 30 September 1997. During the same four year period the Child Support Agency cleared 1,786,271 maintenance applications.
  2. 2. Appeals where Child Support Officer's decisions were not upheld include all of those cases where the tribunal overturned any part of the Child Support Officer's decision, whether or not this was the subject of the appeal.

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