Children: Maintenance

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new applications have been made to the Child Support Agency by (a) parents with care claiming income support and (b) other parents with care in each of the last 24 months.

Photo of Kitty Ussher Kitty Ussher Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have therefore asked the Child Maintenance Commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty:

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications have been made to the Child Support Agency by (a) parents with care claiming income support and (b) other parents with care in each of the last 24 months.

Information on the number of applications received each month is routinely published in Table 2.1 of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary of Statistics (QSS). The latest copy of which is in the House of Commons library or online at the following link:

The Child Maintenance and other Payments Act 2008 changed the nature of the relationship between the child maintenance and benefits systems; ending the compulsion on parents with care in receipt of income based benefits to use the Child Support Agency. Prior to 14 July 2008 all parents with care making a new application for either Income Support or income based Jobseekers Allowance were compelled to make an application for child maintenance to the Child Support Agency. The Agency therefore recorded information on new applications distinguishing between those notified by Jobcentre Plus in respect of parents claiming Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance or those which were classed as a 'private' application made by either parent without compulsion.

Such information as is available on child maintenance applications by source is provided in the attached table.

Current scheme applications by source of application
Jobcentre Plus applications Private applications
January 2007 19,000 5,600
February 2007 27,700 5,900
March 2007 21,400 5,900
April 2007 16,500 5,900
May 2007 18,800 6,000
June 2007 19,600 6,400
July 2007 18,600 6,100
August 2007 20,300 6,400
September 2007 18,600 6,400
October 2007 20,300 7,100
November 2007 20,900 6,100
December 2007 14,100 4,000
January 2008 21,300 6,900
February 2008 20,500 6,500
March 2008 15,700 6,000
April 2008 17,800 6,700
May 2008 16,200 6,300
June 2008 17,400 6,700
July 2008 18,500 6,700
August 2008 10,600 5,900
September 2008 5,100 6,800
October 2008 900 7,000
November 2008 7,300
December 2008 5,300

1. A change in legislation in October 2008 removed the compulsion for parents with care on income based benefit (Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based)) to pursue a claim for child support through the Agency. After this date, it is expected that some parents with care will opt to end their child support claim with CSA. This can be seen as a fall in overall caseload after October 2008.

2. In the run up to the change, a further legislative repeal in July 2008 means that single parents making a new claim for income based benefit will no longer be referred to CSA. Some will make direct arrangements with the Agency, but they are not compelled to do so. This change can be seen as a huge fall (to zero) in the numbers of potential new claims received directly from Jobcentre Plus from October 2008.

3. All cases received from October 2008 were classed as private intake. Any cases that were received from this time will be classed as private intake regardless of benefit status.

4. Jobcentre Plus applications include all applications originating from Jobcentre Plus where the parent with care is in receipt of Income Support or income based Jobseekers' Allowance at the time of application. It is not possible to identify those on Income Support separately.

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