No figures are available on average response times but, in the current year, 86 per cent. of reviews have been cleared within 13 weeks, and 99 per cent. within 26 weeks. We are not complacent about the state of the Child Support Agency. In June, the Government announced that we were looking closely at all areas of the child support system to ensure that the CSA is consistently fair and efficient. We aim to move forward with our final proposals on the CSA in the first half of next year.
I am unable to give the hon. Lady that figure today, but I shall write to her. We are not complacent about the accuracy of initial assessments. We have put extra money into the child support system to ensure a more efficient and effective service on behalf of all our constituents. I assure the hon. Lady that that will continue to be our resolve. We shall examine all aspects of the Child Support Agency to ensure that it works in the way that we expect it to, and in the interests of our constituents.
I welcome the Minister's enthusiastic efforts to improve the system that was introduced by the previous Government, which many of us believe is administered incompetently. It is a cock-up. Does he agree with many hon. Members that the Child Support Act 1991 is the most infamous, iniquitous Act that has gone on the statute book since the poll tax legislation? Administrative incompetence, together with the injustice in the system, adds insult to injury for thousands of conscientious parents, and brings financial distress to many second families throughout the country.
I thank my hon. Friend, because I know that he has taken a great interest in these matters throughout the period that the Child Support Agency has been in existence. We are reviewing all aspects of the agency, and we shall publish our plans for it early next year. I hope that the problems that my hon. Friend has identified will be addressed as a result of those proposals.
Does the Minister agree that, when a review has been successfully concluded and it is deemed that an overpayment has been made, that money should be reimbursed in a short time? Does he accept that three months is too long before that money is repaid? Does he agree that overtime should not be included in an assessment, especially when it is seasonal?
I thank the hon. Lady for her comments. I should point out that a third of absent parents are still not paying, and we must ensure that those payments are made. However, I have noted the hon. Lady's comments and I recognise their force. I assure her that we want an efficient organisation of the Child Support Agency, so that such overpayments are repaid in the time that she suggested.