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Debt Recovery Scheme

21. Mr. Hain: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security which areas have been chosen as pilots for the privatised debt recovery scheme. [19719]

Mr. Roger Evans: The six areas are the north central and west Scotland, Wales, Merseyside, Tyne Tees, Chilterns, south London and West Sussex.

The contractors will also deal with 600 cases for centrally administered benefits, which will be spread at random throughout Great Britain.

Retirement Pensions (Centenarians)

22. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the number of centenarians in receipt of retirement pensions breaking the figure down by sex and age, for each year after and including 100; and if he will make a statement. [19720]

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Mr. Heald: The information is in the table.



1. Figures include persons residing overseas.

2. "retirement pension" comprises contributory retirement pension, non-contributory retirement pension and graduated retirement benefit.


10 per cent. sample of retirement pension awards.

Identity Cards

23. Mr. Batiste: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information will be stored on the proposed social security identity card. [19722]

Mr. Heald: We are looking to the successful private sector supplier to bear the risk of fraud. It is therefore up to them to propose any additional features. However, we expect the details to be held either on the face of the card or within its memory to be kept to the minimum required for the card to act as a secure key to access the payments database.

Child Support Agency

24. Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of child support collected by the Child Support Agency represents a net income increase for parents with care. [19724]

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: Of the total number of parents with care who currently have a full maintenance assessment, 13 per cent. are receiving family credit or disability working allowance, and 8 per cent. are non-benefit cases. Subject to the level of any previous maintenance agreement these cases represent a net income increase.

For parents with care receiving income support, maintenance is a portable income, giving greater flexibility and choice should they wish to return to work. The child maintenance bonus, due to be introduced from April 1997, will provide additional income at the point parents do return to work.

Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent changes there have been in (a) the working of the Child Support Agency and (b) its performance against targets; and what factors have led to them. [15766]

Mr. Mitchell: Recent changes to the agency's operations include: measures to improve the accuracy of its assessments through enhanced training and better

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targeted quality checks; the more efficient use of field office staff in the take-on of responsibility for pre=assessment work; improvements to the child support computer system; and the roll-out of computer support to the field offices.

These and other measures to simplify the child support scheme have enabled the agency to make considerable progress over the past year. Accuracy rates have improved significantly and currently exceed the 75 per cent. target. Further improvements are expected in the coming year. The agency has also collected and arranged maintenance of over £230 million so far this year and is on track to meet the 1995-96 target of £300 million. In January 1996, the agency collected maintenance in excess of £14 million which is more than that collected in the whole of its first year of operations. Payments of maintenance to parents with care have been made within 10 working days in 97 per cent. of cases against a target of 90 per cent.

The changes which have been made and the improvements in the agency's performance are the result of the Government's commitment to the success of the child support scheme and the determined efforts of staff across the agency to deliver the quality of service which the public is entitled to expect.

Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of staff (a) joining and (b) leaving the Child Support Agency for each of the last 24 months for which figures are available; what was the total number of employees of the agency in each month during that period; and if he will make a statement. [20619]

Mr. Mitchell: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ann Chant to Mr. Alex Carlile, dated 18 March 1996:

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