As much as £3 billion in child maintenace debt owed by parents under the Child Support Agency (CSA) may never be recovered, the government believes.
In a new report, the National Audit Office (NAO) reports on the continuing winding down of the notorious agency. The Department for Work and Pensions has been engaged in the task for five years it says, but the prcess has been slow and bogged down at times, the NAO says, citing staffing shortages and inaccurate assessments.
Out of outstanding maintenanance arrears of approximately £4 billion, the watchdog belives three quarters is now “uncollectable”. Some of this debt dates back decades.
An additional £527 million is “potentially collectable” it says, while just £366 million is “likely to be collected”.
As much as £1.4 billiion is owed by a tiny minority of non-resident parents the report claims – just four per cent of the non-resident parents.
Meanwhile, closure of the CSA is behind schedule but the Department for Work and Pensions still hopes to complete the process by the end of this year.
A government spokesman insisted:
“The old system wasn’t good enough, which is why the CSA has been replaced, and today nearly 90 per cent of parents are paying the maintenance they owe. We are taking enforcement action in a higher proportion of historic cases than in the past and will be publishing a strategy for addressing arrears in due course.”
Photo by Zechariah Judy via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence