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Record numbers benefiting from child maintenance… but for how much longer?

The Department for Work and Pensions has released its latest set of quarterly statistics for the Child Support Agency (CSA), showing that the number of cases in which children are benefiting from child maintenance payment is at an all -time high.

In June 2013, 933,100 children were receiving maintenance – up from 921,000 in March 2013 and 900,800 a year ago.

Other key facts are as follows:

  • At June 2013 the Agency was dealing with a total 1,117,400 cases.
  • 720,300 cases were paying maintenance out of 885,000 cases with a child maintenance liability. This represents a maintenance outcome rate of 81.4% and is an increase from 81.0% at March 2013.
  • Maintenance of£315.7 million was collected or arranged by the CSA in the quarter to June 2013. This is up by £6.6 million from £309.1 million collected and arranged in the previous quarter. Maintenance collected and arranged has shown a significant improvement from March 2005 when it was £207.7 million.
  • £1,237.8 million maintenance was collected or arranged in the 12 months to June 2013 of which £112.1 million was arrears. This is up from £1,223.3 million in the 12 months to March 2013 of which £112.0m was arrears.
  • 87.4% of cases received in March 2013 were cleared within 12 weeks. This is a decrease from 87.6% in March 2012. There has been a significant improvement in the time taken to clear cases since March 2005, when only 39.7% were cleared within 12 weeks.
  • 14,100 applications remain uncleared. The number of uncleared applications has increased from March 2013 when it was 13,700. It has decreased from June 2012 when it was 15,300. Since March 2005 the volume of uncleared work has reduced by 95% from 309,900.
  • In 95.3% of assessed cases, the non-resident parent is male.
  • In 44.3% of assessed cases the non-resident parent is not employed, 46.9% are employed and 8.8% self-employed.
  • Non-resident parents owed a total of £3.867 billion in June 2013.
  • 4,200 complaints were received in the quarter to June 2013 while 4,400 complaints were closed. There were 1,500 complaints with outstanding actions as at June 2013. This compares with 5,400 complaints received in the previous quarter, 5,500 closed and 1,700 with outstanding actions.
  • Of the complaints received this quarter, 49% were received from a non-resident parent and 49% from a parent with care.
  • In the quarter to June 2013, 1,290 appeals were received which is a decrease of 30 from March 2013, when it was 1,320. In the quarter to June 2013, 1,615 appeals were either withdrawn, had a decision revised or referred to The Tribunal Service, leaving 1,075 appeals outstanding.
  • 3,340,300 telephone calls were answered in the 12 months to June 2013, with the calls answered from the queue in an average of 37 seconds. This compares to the 12 months to June 2012 where 3,758,200 telephone calls were answered, with the average waiting time of 14 seconds.

The full summary can be found here.

However Gingerbread, the advice and campaign group for single-parent families, has warned that the £315.7 million of maintenance currently being collected by the Child Support Agency is at risk as the CSA prepares for closure. Next year, existing cases with the CSA will be closed and parents will have to reapply to the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

To reopen cases, parents will have to pay an upfront fee of £20. If there are subsequent issues with the payment of maintenance and the CMS has to step in, there may also be ongoing collection fees.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: “The CSA is handling more than one million cases, all of which will be closed, no matter what the history of payments has been. This puts vital money for children in jeopardy.

Child maintenance can and does make a significant difference to the lives of children, and lifts some of the poorest families out of poverty. It is wrong to put single parents through the worry and stress of case closure and the cost of paying to access the money their children deserve, particularly when they may have struggled long and hard to get maintenance paid in the first place.”

Gingerbread has also accused the DWP of publishing “misleading data that gives an incomplete picture of [the CSA’s] performance”.

A press release from the organisation notes: “This quarter the CSA has reported that 81% of its cases were “paying maintenance”. However, this figure includes cases where any payment has been made in the previous three months, counting partial, irregular payments as ‘positive outcomes’ alongside those who pay on time and in full. In addition, more than a quarter (27%) of the cases it reports as a “positive outcome” are “maintenance direct” cases where the CSA does not administer payments and in fact does not monitor if payments are made”.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Jane Jackson says:

    I would like to see the stats on how many non resident fathers who have been quite rightly paying maintenance for their children, but who are denied contact by the resident parent.

  2. JamesB says:

    Two things.

    1. For Janet. There was years ago a figure that was released that the majority of non resident parents paying through the CSA were not seeing their children.

    Now, I say that the vast majority of NRPs in the CSA (including me) are not happy with the arrangements in place for them to see their children.

    2. Rhetorical question How to move back to how things were befire the CSA without looking like you are abandonning that Approach? It sounded like a good idea but the law of unintended consequences meant it wasnt. Women are just as capable as acting badly as men.

    Paying women to abandon the fathers was and is folly.

  3. Yvie says:

    I should imagine a good number of fathers are paying up regularly but are denied contact with their children. There will obviously be a number of different reasons for this, but I suspect there will be a large number of parents with care, who would be prepared for the children to lose contact with their father, rather than lose their full maintenance.

    Gingerbread needs to stop bleating on about single mothers, many of whom with the addition of all their benefits, plus child maintenance, are in a far better position that some of the dads, particularly those with a shared residence order, who are maintaining their children at one home and also maintaining them at the other.

  4. JamesB says:

    I do agree with Yvie and second her with pointing-out the obvious that two homes cost more to run than one home and where there is only money for one home both parties and the government aren’t going to be better off financially by the split, indeed the only people usually happy in those (majority of) situations are ‘the professionals’ (including lawyers and Gingerbread and Cafcass and family courts) and feminists. Meanwhile the rest of us are left to trying to advise people on here and in our lives to not go down this road – to some effect and I think we are winning.

  5. JamesB says:

    Thanks for posting those thoughts of mine as they are not particularly nice thoughts. They are meant though. I tried debating the points on the gingerbread site and was banned, so much for them being nice and progressive, they would not hear anything contrary to their own opinion. Very bad form that.

    For richer people financing two houses and divorce may be fine and good. For many – including me it isn’t. My ex gets to live in the nice family home with her boyfriend and me paying for it while I get to live with the rats and flies and noise (but all I could afford) while at the same time being denied contact with my children. This is not an isolated incident either. Dads get to live with parents and in sheds and garages and caravans and on sofas while the ex stays in the house, often times with non molestation and or exclusion orders. If the CSA call that a success (they do) I do not and hate them and anyone who backs them for that approach.

    Meanwhile trendy liberals such as Gingerbread scream for more and I hate them and all who back them for it.

  6. Luke says:

    “I would like to see the stats on how many non resident fathers who have been quite rightly paying maintenance for their children, but who are denied contact by the resident parent.”

    It’s a good point Jane, but I would be surprised if any such information was made available – and it is difficult to firmly establish the reasons for them not seeing the child – it is not always the resident parent stopping it – although I reckon it is more times than it is not.

    In my opinion if a NRP is paying child support but is not getting to see the child then that should be an issue that automatically requires action and is regarded as a major problem (irrespective of who is at fault/not at fault) – not something that is just left.

  7. Stitchedup says:

    James B wrote: “I tried debating the points on the gingerbread site and was banned, so much for them being nice and progressive, they would not hear anything contrary to their own opinion. Very bad form that.”

    This is a common occurrence on websites masquerading as aid organisations when they are in fact feminist political organisations. It is also a common occurrence on certain women’s pages within the press, the moderators on the Guardian Women’s pages are particularly militant and routinely delete comments that oppose their point of view even if they do not breach the rules and you will be banned swiftly if you appear to be antifeminist. So much for debate and the principles of free speech that the media are meant to uphold.

  8. John says:

    They missed the most important stat out.

    How many lives that they have taken or wrecked, in their endless pursuit of profits for their stakeholders!

  9. JamesB says:

    CSA stake-holders, certainly are not the pwcs or nrps. Who are the stakeholders? The professionals in the field and the Government and it doesn’t work for them either as it wrecks lives and doesn’t bring votes but disenfranchises people. So, why do they carry-on, pride I suppose, although I must confess to not understanding the motivation, perhaps latent lesbianism.

  10. charch says:

    CSA is not fair 25% for three children or more especially if the non resident parent is not providing home or holidays or giving the resident parent time off to work, rest. The resident parent gives 96% time, and 95% income. Csa should take onto consideration time is money big difference between o to 52 nights care a year.

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