Photo of Stephen Lloyd

Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne, Liberal Democrat)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much in child support arrears is owed by non-resident parents to parents with care, in each parliamentary constituency, in the most recent period for which figures are available.

Photo of Maria Miller

Maria Miller (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Basingstoke, Conservative)

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and arrange for a copy of the table to be placed in the Library. I have seen the response.

Letter from Noel Shanahan

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much child support arrears are owed by non-resident parents to parents with care, by parliamentary constituency, in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The collection of child maintenance arrears continues to be a priority. It is children who lose out when parents do not live up to their responsibilities. We are determined to get to grips with the £3.8bn debt which has accumulated over the last 19 years and we want to collect as much as we possibly can.

However, it is important to recognise that not all arrears can be collected. Much is very old and much is no longer actually wanted by the parent with care. A significant proportion is likely to be revised downwards very substantially at the point the debtor finally agrees to pay and provides full information on their financial position, as it reflects interim maintenance assessments made in the 1990s which were artificially inflated.

Finally, only 59% of arrears are actually owed to parents with care; the remainder is owed to the Secretary of State rather than parents with care in lieu of benefits paid out in the past. This is properly owed and should be. paid, but its collection is subject to different considerations from that owed directly to parents with care.

The table, which has been placed in the Library, shows the amount of child maintenance arrears owed by non-resident parents as of March 2012, for cases administered on the Child Support Agency's computer systems, based on the parliamentary constituency of the parent with care, and the subtotal which is actually owed to parents with care.

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