§ Mr. Peter Bradley
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what proportion of complaints against the CSA are investigated(a) by the Independent Case Examiner and (b) by the Parliamentary Ombudsman; 
(2) what is the current backlog of CSA investigations; and what is his estimate of the length of time needed to clear the backlog (a) with the Independent Complaints Examiner and (b) with the Ombudsman; 
(3) how many staff the Independent Case Examiner for the Child Support Agency employs; how many are investigating officers; and what plans he has for further recruitment; 
(4) what is the trend in the numbers of complaints against the CSA being made to (a) the Independent Complaints Commissioner and (b) the Ombudsman; 
(5) what is the average time for the completion of (a) Independent Case Examiners and (b) Parliamentary Ombudsman investigations of CSA cases (i) from the time when the cause for complaint arises; (ii) from the submission of a complaint and (iii) from the start of the investigation. 
§ Angela Eagle
The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mrs. Faith Boardman. She will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Mike Isaac to Mr. Peter Bradley, dated 5 November 1999:In Faith Boardman's absence, as Deputy Chief Executive, I am replying to your Parliamentary Questions about the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) for the Child Support Agency and the Ombudsman.During 1998/99 28,073 complaints were received by the Agency, 1,536 (5.18%) were received by ICE and 45 (0.15%) were accepted by the Ombudsman for full investigation, a total of 29,654. This total includes cases double counted where they were first dealt with by CSA and then by ICE/Ombudsman.It may be of interest to note that the 28,073 complaints received by CSA represents a 0.7% increase over the previous year. However, our caseload increased by 22% to 923,960. As a percentage of caseload the complaints rate for the year reduced by 17%.ICE have 195 cases awaiting investigation and, if intake levels remain unchanged, they would expect this number to reduce to around 50 by March 2000. I cannot answer the part of your question about the Ombudsman's backlog, if indeed there is one, because that 505W is not a matter for the Department of Social Security or its Agencies. Similarly with your questions about trends and clearance times, I would suggest that you approach the Ombudsman's office directly.46 staff are currently employed by ICE, of which 38 are engaged in investigation work. There are no plans to recruit additional staff.I have attached a month by month breakdown of the numbers of complaints received by ICE. It is clear from this that the first six months of ICE operation were unrepresentative. You will see that since October 1997, following publication of their first Annual Report, there is no discernible trend up or down, especially as a percentage of the Agency's rising caseload.No records are held which would allow your question about clearance times to be fully answered without revisiting all cases to extract the information required. However, ICE do record the time taken from receipt of a complaint in the ICE office. Up to the end of September 1999 the average clearance time for a complaint is 29.8 weeks.A process was introduced in 1998/99 which allows appropriate cases to be identified and referred to the Child Support Agency for early resolution of the problem by taking prompt action. Thus negating the need for a full investigation by ICE. One effect of this initiative is to lengthen the average time taken to resolve those complaints where early resolution proved impossible and full investigation was needed.I hope this is helpful.
Complaints received by Independent Case Examiner Month 1997 1998 1999 January — 112 124 February — 108 139 March — 126 154 April 21 116 127 May 48 102 101 June 69 122 104 July 72 116 166 August 82 107 144 September 94 164 119 October 137 132 — November 110 153 — December 108 107 — 1 Due to office reorganisation a proportion of the July intake is recorded in August
§ Mr. Webb
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 27 October 1999,Official Report, columns 875-76, if he will estimate the number of non-resident parents who, because they receive income support or other related benefit, are deemed by the Child Support Agency to have nil maintenance liability. 
§ Angela Eagle
The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mrs. Faith Boardman. She will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Mike Isaac to Mr. Steve Webb, dated 5 November 1999:In Faith Boardman's absence, as Deputy Chief Executive, I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his Answer of 27 October (Official report, columns 875-6).Table 3.3 on page 31 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics for May 1999, the latest published figures, provides an estimate of 289,400 non-resident parents in receipt of Income Support/Job Seekers Allowance Income Based with nil maintenance liability.I hope this is helpful.