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Children: Maintenance

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 27th June 2012.

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Photo of Stephen Lloyd Stephen Lloyd Liberal Democrat, Eastbourne

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 23 April 2012, Official Report, column 649W, on children: maintenance, what steps the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission plans to take to improve the effectiveness of its collection and enforcement activity to ensure that as large a proportion of arrears as possible are collected whilst clients are on the existing schemes.

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

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

Letter from Noel Shanahan

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

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Answer of 23 April 2012, Official Report, column 649W, on children: maintenance, what steps the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission plans to take to improve the effectiveness of its collection and enforcement activity to ensure that as large a proportion of arrears as possible are collected whilst clients are on the existing schemes.

The collection of child maintenance arrears is a priority for the Coalition Government. It is children who lose out when parents do not live up to their responsibilities.

We are determined to collect as much debt owed by non-resident parents as possible. For this reason we commissioned an independent panel of experts to provide advice to the Government on how we might best tackle the issue of uncollected arrears. We are considering the recommendations and will bring forward a strategy in the coming months.

We are using all the powers available to us—for example, we are increasing the use we make of deductions from non-resident parents' bank accounts and orders for sale of their property. We are also making innovations such as accessing wider sources of Government information to locate thousands of parents who have tried to avoid their responsibilities to their children.

The long-term solution will come with the introduction of the new scheme, which will bring greater automation and in turn, more alerts to identify quickly people who fail to pay. Once the new scheme is introduced, this will give us additional capacity to pursue effective debt collection.

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