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Child Support Agency (ICT Systems)

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th March 2011.

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Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Conservative, Loughborough 2:30 pm, 28th March 2011

What steps he is taking to improve the ICT systems operated by the Child Support Agency and its successor.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The CSA currently uses two IT systems. It was the intention of the previous Government to transfer all 1993 cases to the 2003 scheme, but this proved impossible because of deficiencies with the IT they commissioned. This situation is unacceptable, which is why the Government have decided to bring in a new single system to replace the current ones. We plan to introduce this from 2012.

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Conservative, Loughborough

I have previously written to the Secretary of State about my constituent, Mr Jonathon Little, who had arrears added to his current child support bill that were impossible for him to pay. The CSA told Mr Little that the payment period would be extended to 2014, but he then received a letter stating that the payments on account would be reviewed every six months. When I queried this, the CSA told me, “That’s just a computer-generated letter; we’ve had problems with those.” Will the Minister assure me that he will look into the matter as part of the wider improvements being made to the IT system operated by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission?

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank my hon. Friend for that example. She has just underlined the need for change, because the current system is not working as it should for all constituents. Indeed, there are now 100,000 cases that cannot even be dealt with on the current IT system—costing the taxpayer a great deal of money and, as she points out, the patience of a great many of our constituents.