§ Mr. Win Griffiths
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many people in paid employment in each CSA administrative region were being assessed for child support payments, but subsequently lost the source of income on which the assessment was being made in the last 12 months; and what proportion this represents of the total number of persons in paid employment; 
(2) how many people in each CSA administrative region have received requests for child support payments, broken down by (a) self-employed, (b) PAYE employees, (c) unemployed and (d) receiving benefit not connected with unemployment; and what proportion this represents of persons in each case. 846W
§ Angela Eagle
[holding answer 27 November 2000]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Mr. Doug Smith To Mr. Win Griffiths, dated November 2000:
I am replying to your Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency.
You ask how many people there were in paid employment who had been assessed for child maintenance but who have, during the last 12 months, lost their source of income.
The information is not available in the format requested. Such information that is available is shown in Table 1 in the attached annex. This shows those who were employed as at 31 August 1999 and their employment status as at 31 August 2000 by CSA Business Unit.847W
You also ask about the number of people in each CSA Business Unit who have received requests for child support payments, broken down into status, and what proportion this represents of persons in each case. Table 2 provides this information and gives the latest data available. The table includes cases where child support liability was assessed but no payment was requested because the
Table 1. Number of non-resident parents who were in employment at 31 August 1999 and were still in employment at 31 August 2000, by CSA Business Unit: all cases1 Agency Business Units Number in employment2 at 31 August 1999 Number still in employment2 at 31 August 2000 Number not in employment at 31 August 2000 Midlands 80,000 71,000 5,000 South Eastern 67,000 63,000 3,000 Scotland and North East England 87,000 80,000 6,000 South Western 86,000 78,000 4,000 Wales and North West 83,000 70,000 6,000 Eastern 89,000 83,000 5,000 All 491,000 3445,000 328,000 Number of population in paid employment4 27.5 million 28 million 28 million Percentage of CSA customers in paid employment against population as a whole 1.78 1.59 — 1All cases include employed and self-employed with full and interim assessments 2Those cases that are still employed as at August 2000 may have had periods of unemployment during the year 318,000 cases not accounted for in August 2000 are no longer on the Child Support Computer System (CSCS) indicating that they are no longer liable for child support, or their cases have been suspended for some reason. 4NRP benefit status is more indicative of the case at take-on rather than at the current time
Figures are rounded to the nearest thousand; therefore totals may not tally
Figures are based on a 5 per. cent. sample of CSCS
Labour Force Survey (seasonally adjusted) rounded to the nearest half million.
Table 2. Number of non-resident parents in each CSA Business Unit who were charged during quarter ending 31 August 1999 Agency Total number of cases Number of cases where payment is requested Percentage of cases where payment is requested Self-employed 52,000 33,000 63.46 Employed 440,000 275,000 62.50 JSA/IB 99,000 12,000 12.12 Income Support 218,000 8,0000 3.67 JSA (Cont) 19,000 11,000 57.89 Incapacity/Disabled 31,000 4,000 12.90 Other 116,000 46,000 39.66 Midlands Self-employed 6,000 3,000 50.00 Employed 73,000 43,000 58.90 JSA/IB 15,000 2,000 13.33 Income Support 36,000 1,000 2.78 JSA (Cont) 3,000 2,000 66.67 Incapacity/Disabled 4,000 0 0.00 Other 20,000 8,000 40.00 South Eastern Self-employed 16,000 12,000 75.00 Employed 50,000 29,000 58.00 JSA/IB 16,000 2,000 12.50 Income Support 33,000 2,000 6.06 JSA (Cont) 2,000 1,000 50.00 Incapacity/Disabled 4,000 1,000 25.00 Other 24,000 9,000 37.50 Scotland and North East England Self-employed 6,000 4,000 66.67 Employed 82,000 54,000 65.85 JSA/IB 21,000 3,000 14.29 Income Support 38,000 1,000 2.63 JSA (Cont) 4,000 2,000 50.00 Incapacity/Disabled 7,000 0 0.00 Other 17,000 7,000 41.18
non-resident parent was either paying child maintenance direct to the parent with care or where their maintenance assessment was calculated as nil.
The Department produces a CSA Quarterly Summary of Statistics that is available in the House of Commons Library and you may find the information it contains of further interest.
Table 2. Number of non-resident parents in each CSA Business Unit who were charged during quarter ending 31 August 1999 Agency Total number of cases Number of cases where payment is requested Percentage of cases where payment is requested South Western Self-employed 10,000 5,000 50.00 Employed 76,000 48,000 63.16 JSA/IB 13,000 2,000 15.38 Income Support 25,000 1,000 4.00 JSA (Cont) 2,000 1,000 50.00 Incapacity/Disabled 3,000 0 0.00 Other 15,000 5,000 33.33 Wales and North West Self-employed 8,000 5,000 62.50 Employed 55,000 29,000 52.73 JSA/IB 16,000 2,000 12.50 Income Support 48,000 3,000 6.25 JSA (Cont) 2,000 1,000 50.00 Incapacity/Disability 8,000 1,000 12.50 Other 21,000 9,000 42.86 Eastern Self-employed 7,000 4,000 57.14 Employed 81,000 50,000 61.73 JSA/IB 18,000 2,000 11.11 Income Support 41,000 2,000 4.88 JSA (Cont) 2,000 1,000 50.00 Incapacity/Disabled 4,000 0 0.00 Other 20,000 9,000 45.00
§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many parents caring for children have been penalised by way of a reduction in income support for failing, or refusing, to provide information concerning an absent parent to the Child Support Agency in 849W (a) Inverclyde and (b) Scotland in the past four years; what was the average amount of reduction; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Angela Eagle
The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Mr. Doug Smith to Dr. Norman A. Godman, dated November 2000:
I am replying to your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency.
We do not have an accurate figure for the number of Reduced Benefit Directions imposed in the Inverclyde area. Based on a 5% sample of the whole national caseload, we would estimate there to have been around 100 cases over the last 4 years, but you will appreciate that this is an estimate and may not be accurate.
The following figures represent the number of lone parents claiming Income Support in Scotland who had a Reduced Benefit Direction. Because the Income Support data is only extracted once a month, there may be a small number of claimants who have had a Reduced Benefit Direction for a short period of time that are not included in these figures:
Year Number 1996–97 1,700 1997–98 1,600 1998–99 2,200 1999–2000 600
The latest average reduction for parents with care on Income Support is £20.99 per week. This figure is based on an average of two quarters, May 2000 and August 2000. Other years' average reductions for Scotland are:
Year £ 1997–98 18.23 1998–99 18.46 1999–2000 20.28
A reduced Benefit Direction will not be made when a lone parent has good cause for not seeking maintenance. Good cause is accepted where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the parent or any child living with her would suffer harm or undue distress as a result of pursuing child maintenance. Reductions will not be implemented if the parent with care is in a vulnerable group such as where there is a Disability Premium in payment.
Benefits Agency staff now visit the parent with care and help her complete an application form. This has led to a significant increase in the number of parents co-operating. Some 90% of parents with care co-operate now, compared to 30% in 1997, and there has also been a 72.7% reduction in the number of Reduced Benefit Directions imposed in 1999/2000 against 1998/1999 figures.
Data have been provided by DSS Analytical Services Division (ASD) using a quarterly 5% sample of cases on the Income Support Computer System. These figures, which are rounded to the nearest thousand. may be unreliable because they are subject to sampling error.
I hope this is helpful.
§ Dr. George Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how his Department has utilised the power to incur expenditure on child support reform provided under the terms of section 82 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999; and if he will set out the procedures that have been developed in relation to this and future uses of the section 82 power. 850W
§ Angela Eagle
Section 82 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act allows my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to seek the approval of the House for expenditure in preparation for a change in the law ahead of the law receiving Royal Assent, where, without such advance expenditure, it would not be possible to deliver a service for which he is responsible by the due date. Section 82 requires a report to be laid before the House and the House to approve the report by resolution before expenditure can commence.
In addition to the specific procedures and controls specified in the legislation, the Government have already given a commitment that the Social Security Select Committee and the Committee for Public Accounts will be provided with copies of drafts of such reports, before they are formally laid before the House—19 May 1999, Official Report, columns 1337–38. This will enable both Committees to have an input into the process and, in particular, to ensure that the use of this power is only for the purposes stated to Parliament by Ministers.
We can now give a further undertaking, to provide the House with an outturn report setting out the actual expenditure incurred under the terms of section 82 for each use of the power, either at the end of the specific period to which the power relates or following the termination of its application by the receipt of Royal Assent to the related Bill, whichever is earlier.
The first, and so far the only, use of the power was in respect of Child Support reform. On 11 April 2000 the House approved expenditure of up to £45 million divided into two elements:
- (i) a maximum of £6 million for expenditure by the Child Support Agency on the legislative-dependent elements of the child support reform process;
- (ii) a maximum of £39 million of accruing liability under a PFI contract, also on the legislative-dependent elements of child support reform.
At the time of the approval of the report it was not clear whether the related legislation, the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act would secure Royal Assent ahead of or following the parliamentary summer recess. In the event. Royal Assent was secured on the last day before the recess, 28 July 2000. Equally, the timing of the signing of the PFI contract with Affinity was not clear at the time of the preparation of the report, but in the event took place in early August.
The actual expenditure relying on section 82 was therefore confined to £2.66 million, spent by the Child Support Agency on the early costs of reform implementation. In the event it was not necessary to incur any liability under the PFI contract ahead of the Act passing into law.