Children: Maintenance

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 26th April 2011.

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Photo of Karl McCartney Karl McCartney Conservative, Lincoln

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

(1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Child Support Agency and its successor in ensuring appropriate maintenance payments are made; and what changes he proposes to make under the reformed statutory child maintenance system;

(2) what steps he is taking to improve the (a) efficiency and (b) effectiveness of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission;

(3) what steps he is taking to ensure that the reformed statutory child maintenance system will provide resident parents with (a) an efficient and (b) a coherent service.

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

Although the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, which is also responsible for the Child Support Agency, has improved its effectiveness over the past few years, we recognise that much more needs to be done. More than 3 million children live in separated families, but only around 50% of those benefit from an effective maintenance arrangement. In addition the annual running costs of the statutory maintenance scheme is approximately £460 million, on average a cost of over 40p for each £1 of child maintenance collected or arranged and this does not represent value for money to the taxpayer.

The consultation document published in January:

Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance outlines our assessment of some of the issues of the current system and sets out our plans for the radical re-shaping of the child maintenance system.

We want to make it the norm in society that parents take responsibility for putting in place financial support for their children post separation. Research suggests that just over half of parents currently using the statutory maintenance scheme feel they could make their own financial arrangements for their children with the right help. For those families who cannot make a family-based arrangement, the Government are continuing to invest in a new streamlined child maintenance scheme to replace the existing CSA schemes in order to deliver a significantly improved service.

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