Children: Maintenance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 7th March 2023.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Ninth Report of the Committee of Public Accounts published on 22 June 2022, HC 255, and the Treasury Minute published on 14 October 2022, HC 255, what progress his Department has made on implementing the recommendations on (a) low customer satisfaction and (b) slow enforcement timescales.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The department has made the following progress in relation to customer satisfaction and enforcement timescales:

Customer Satisfaction

We continue to improve services including digital through the wider Departmental Service Modernisation.

  • Services that have been made available online are therefore accessible 24/7 and, in many cases, now delivered via automation making them faster and more responsive.
  • The introduction of online Get Help Arranging Child Maintenance service providing support to separated parents in managing their own affairs as well as making the CMS more accessible.
  • A wider organisational redesign is underway with a key priority to improve customer experience.

Use of the DWP customer experience survey to track satisfaction levels and provide insight.

  • The Department’s 2020/21 Customer Experience Survey and the CMS Customer Experience Survey are currently unpublished, so we are unable to share the findings at this time. The reason for the delay is because of the impacts of Covid on the survey, resulting in an extended QA process. Steps are in place to publish the findings and the final sign off procedures are currently taking place within the Department, with the intention to publish by Summer 2023.

The Child Maintenance Service recently piloted ‘Real Time Customer Feedback’ on behalf of the department to better understand customer experience.

  • Customers were given the opportunity to rate the service immediately after their contact with the department and provide narrative feedback on their experience. As this feedback has been provided in real time, where service concerns or failures were identified Child Maintenance colleagues were able to go back to the customer to further resolve their enquiry, improving customer service outcomes as well as providing valuable learning to improve our service offering. This pilot is currently supporting a business case for wider rollout.

Sessions planned in March for MP researchers to support them in constituency casework relating to Child Maintenance.


  • We are committed to making the most effective use of our strong enforcement powers and have made a number of improvements to our processes.
  • Our strategy is to tackle breakdowns at earliest opportunity and use preferred Method of Payments (Deductions of Earnings Orders/Direct Debits) which achieve a higher rate of compliance, whilst agreeing more sustainable ongoing payments.
  • Deduction from earnings orders processes have been simplified to increase efficiency of this process.  Improvements have been introduced to the way employers make DEO payments through CMS to get money to families quicker by reducing or removing any manual intervention in allocating a payment.
  • We have also brought forward the point at which we make deductions from bank accounts. This has not only increased the volume of deductions from bank accounts but also means we are getting money to children more quickly.
  • A Private Members’ Bill (PMB) to streamline CMS enforcement, sponsored by Siobhan Baillie, had its Second Reading stage on 9 December 2022. The PMB removes the requirement to make court applications for liability orders which enable the CMS to progress with enforcement action, thus improving the efficiency of the enforcement process.

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