Children: Maintenance

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 1st April 2008.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 17 July 2007, Official Report, columns 205-06W, on children: maintenance, what the reasons were for recent statements by the staff operating the Child Support Agency (CSA) MP hotline that they are unable to contact the Bolton office of the CSA by telephone.

Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

holding answer 25 March 2008

The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephan Geraghty, dated 1 April 2008:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Answer of 17th July 2007, Official Report, columns 205-6W, on children: maintenance, what the reasons were for recent statements by the staff operating the Child Support Agency (CSA) MP hotline that they are unable to contact the Bolton Office of the CSA by telephone.

In my previous letter to you I confirmed that when the Agency received a complaint relating to a clerical case managed by the Bolton site, the initial contact with the Bolton site was by email to ensure that all the necessary information to progress and resolve the client's concerns was gathered.

Since my last response to you in July 2007, the Agency has addressed the concerns that you and others have raised about how the Bolton site was managing complaints. Our Minister, Lord McKenzie, also wrote to all Members of Parliament in July last year announcing the Agency's decision to increase the resource dedicated to managing the clerical caseload. All complaints involving Members of Parliament or the Independent Case Examiner were transferred to specialist caseworkers within the Agency at the end of last year. In addition the Agency now retains new clerical cases until the first maintenance payment has been received, allowing the Bolton site to concentrate on collecting and paying maintenance for children.

These changes now mean that clerical cases are progressed in five separate sites across the Agency. To support these changes the Agency introduced a new database which allows all sites receiving queries relating to clerical cases to deal with all but the most complex of issues. Where the Agency is unable to resolve a query relating to a clerical case from the MP Hotline by reference to the database, the Agency now co-ordinates the response through a specialist team based in our Falkirk Centre. This team then takes responsibility for resolving the query and will contact the Member of Parliament to progress the case.

I can assure you that the Agency is committed to improving the service to those clients whose cases are managed clerically and as a result of the additional resource dedicated to this area client service will continue to improve.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

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