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”.