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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

(1) how many child maintenance arrears cases the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is dealing with; and in what proportion of such cases there is (a) a repayment agreement which is being adhered to, (b) an active deduction from earnings order, (c) an active regular deduction order, (d) a liability order and (e) further legal enforcement action in progress;

(2) in how many child maintenance arrears cases being dealt with by the Child Maintenance Agency there is (a) current active debt recovery action, (b) no active debt recovery action but case surveillance via a credit reference agency and (c) no active debt recovery action and no continuing case surveillance.

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, how many child maintenance arrears cases the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is dealing with; and in what proportion of such cases there is (a) a repayment agreement which is being adhered to, (b) an active deduction from earnings order, (c) an active regular deduction order, (d) a liability order and (e) further legal enforcement action in progress. [112817]; and

In how many child maintenance arrears cases being dealt with by the Child Maintenance Agency there is (a) current active debt recovery action, (b) no active debt recovery action but case surveillance via a credit reference agency and (c) no active debt recovery action and no continuing case surveillance.

As of February 2012, the total number of cases with child maintenance arrears outstanding was 1,261,900, of which 482,000 cases were either closed or cancelled/withdrawn. Of those cases which are live (i.e. not closed or cancelled/withdrawn) 201,000 cases had an arrears charging schedule in place. 108,100 of those cases with an arrears charging schedule in place were paying towards this arrears schedule.

At February 2012 there were 141,740 cases with an active deduction from earnings order in place. There were a total of 160 regular deduction orders in place. However each regular deduction order could affect more than one case as a non-resident parent could be contributing to more than one parent with care. It is not possible to establish the number of cases without investigating further, which would involve looking at individual cases on the system.

The total, number of liability orders in place at February 2012, was 19,500, and the total number of further legal enforcement action in progress was 26,100. Further legal enforcement actions include arrestment, attachments, bailiffs, charge for payments, charging orders, committals, freezing orders, inhibitions, orders for sale, registering liability orders in county courts, registering liability orders with Registry Trust Limited, set aside disposition orders, third party debt orders and variation orders. A non-resident parent could have more than one liability order or legal enforcement action in place against them. To establish the total number of cases with a liability order and other enforcement actions would involve looking at each individual case on the system.

To determine the total number of cases with an active debt recovery action and the total number of cases where no active debt recovery action would require further investigation and cross referencing of data on different systems. This further analysis would be available at a disproportionate cost.

Information about the total volume of enforcement actions undertaken by the Agency can be found on page 28 of the March 2012 Quarterly Summary of Statistics, which can be found at the following link:

http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/pdf/qss/QSS_mar_2012.pdf

At the end of February 2012, 15,000 actions had been registered with credit reference agencies for surveillance on financial activity as we had exhausted cost effective options for collecting arrears on them.

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