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New Deal for Disabled People

The Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform (Margaret Hodge): The New Deal for Disabled People will be extended for a further year to 31 March 2007. This will provide continuity of support to priority customers and allow emerging evaluation evidence, from this and other initiatives, to be taken into consideration in the development of future provision.

All existing job brokers will have the opportunity to bid to participate in the extended programme, details of which will be published in the autumn.

Child Support Scheme

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. David Blunkett): This quarterly report is to update the House on progress of the Child Support Agency. It covers the period from March to June 2005 and contains improved management information. The last report formed part of the Government's response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee's Second Report of the Session 2004–05 and covered performance up to February 2005.

The Agency is currently administering cases under new and old schemes, across two computer systems. At the end of June 2005, the Agency's caseload stood at around 1.4 million cases. Of these, 950,000 cases were being administered under the old child support scheme (270,000 of which were on the new computer system having migrated from the old computer system because they were linked in some way to a new application) and 480,000 were being administered under the new scheme. Around 12,000 new scheme cases are being administered clerically as they are un-progressable on the new computer system.

Since the inception of the new scheme in March 2003 the Agency has received 680,000 potential new scheme applications, of which 420,000 have been cleared. The remaining 260,000 are at various stages of the work in progress, representing a marginal reduction since March as a result of efforts by the Agency to focus on its backlogs. In addition, there are 78,000 old scheme cases awaiting an assessment, a reduction from 130,000 in June 2004.

In June 2005, as a result of the Agency's intervention, 390,000 parents with care (equating to 520,000 children) were in receipt of maintenance via the collection service, or had a maintenance direct arrangement in place. Despite the problems with the administration of the new scheme the proportion of parents with a new scheme
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calculation who receive maintenance is higher (54 per cent.) than if they had been assessed under the old scheme (46 per cent.).

During the period March 2005 to June 2005 overall Agency case compliance remained stable at 70 per cent. This is also the case for old scheme compliance at 72 per cent. New scheme compliance, at 66 per cent. in June 2005, has risen from 61 per cent. in June 2004.

As a result of initiatives rolled out since autumn 2004, we are seeing real improvement in case compliance for those cases for which maintenance was calculated from September 2004 onwards. The overall new scheme compliance rate was 66 per cent in June 2005, and, for those new cases calculated in February 2005 (the latest month for which compliance has begun to stabilise for new cases), compliance had reached 78 per cent.

Trends in cash compliance performance are broadly flat over the period, with overall Agency performance at 69 per cent. in June 2005. Old and new scheme performance was 72 per cent and 62 per cent respectively with new scheme performance having improved from 50 per cent in June 2004.

During the quarter ending June 2005 the Agency collected maintenance arrears equivalent to 35 per cent of the total amount of unpaid regular maintenance which accrued over the same period. Performance across the quarter has remained unchanged for the old scheme at 40 per cent, with new scheme performance demonstrating further improvement from 22 per cent to 27 per cent (having already risen from 15 per cent in June 2004).

Accuracy performance is measured cumulatively month-on-month throughout the year. Figures based on the first results of 2005–06 show performance to June of 82 per cent for new scheme and 75 per cent for old scheme.

Whilst we have seen continuing progress some significant problems remain with the new computer and telephony systems and these continue to slow progress on business recovery. The Agency is working closely with EDS to resolve these problems and further IT releases were successfully implemented in December 2004 and May 2005.

We have always said that no decision will be taken on when to convert old scheme cases until we are confident the new scheme is working well. A new chief executive was appointed in April this year and he has initiated a strategic review of the Agency's objectives and operational arrangements. He will report to Ministers in the coming months and we will report to the House in due course.
Summary of Agency Performance to June 2005
Table 1—Agency Performance—New applications intake, clearances, work in progress
New SchemeJanuary 2005February 2005March 2005April 2005May 2005June 2005Scheme to Date—June 2005 4
Clearances: 1 & 3 16,00019,00024,00024,00027,00026,000419,000
Work in progress 2 259,000265,000266,000267,000265,000263,000263,000
Clearances as % of intake69%78%95%97%108%106%60%

1. A case is defined as cleared if:

a maintenance calculation has been carried out and a payment arrangement between the parent with care and the non resident parent is in place;
the case has been closed because the PWC is claiming Good Cause or is subject to a Reduced Benefit Decision; or
the application is identified as being a change of circumstances on an existing case.
Further changes in the definition of a clearance may be made as further progress is made with the improvement in management information.

2. Previously, a case was defined as cleared when it had been closed or a maintenance liability had been calculated. Improvements in management information now enable the Agency to extend the definition as described above, and thereby provide a more accurate picture of the Agency's intake and volumes of new applications work in progress. Further changes in the definition of a clearance may be made as further progress is made with the improvement in management information.
3. Figures exclude cases which have been progressed and cleared clerically. This is because it is not possible to determine how many clerically progressed cases are still included in the Agency's work in progress, or were originally included in the intake figures. Details of clerically progressed cases are included below:
4. While we can give accurate scheme to date information, it is not currently possible to break this down into a monthly time series prior to January 2005 as work to produce this information is still in progress.

Scheme to June 2005
Applications Cleared6,000
Maintenance Calculations5,000

Table 2—Agency Performance—Compliance, Arrears & Accuracy

June 2004September2004December 2004March 2005April 2005May 2005June 2005
Case Compliance 1
Overall Agency71 per cent70 per cent70 per cent70 per cent70 per cent70 per cent70 per cent
New Scheme61 per cent62 per cent64 per cent66 per cent66 per cent66 per cent66 per cent
All Old Scheme73 per cent73 per cent72 per cent72 per cent72 per cent72 per cent72 per cent
Cash Compliance 1
Overall Agency68 per cent66 per cent67 per cent70 per cent69 per cent69 per cent69 per cent
New Scheme50 per cent52 per cent55 per cent61 per cent60 per cent61 per cent62 per cent
All Old Scheme71 per cent70 per cent70 per cent73 per cent73 per cent72 per cent72 per cent
Quarterly Arrears
Overall Agency30 per cent28 per cent29 per cent34 per cent34 per cent34 per cent35 per cent
New Scheme15 per cent16 per cent18 per cent22 per cent22 per cent24 per cent27 per cent
All Old Scheme35 per cent33 per cent34 per cent40 per cent40 per cent39 per cent40 per cent
Accuracy 2
New Scheme83 per cent78 per cent75 per cent88 per cent82 per cent
All Old Scheme84 per cent80 per cent80 per cent78 per cent79 per cent75 per cent

1. Compliance is measured over a quarterly period as opposed to monthly, as it is a less volatile measure of performance in that it smoothes out the impact of events such as bank holidays, late payments and processing details. These figures may be subject to change as more reliable information becomes available.
2. There are no figures for new scheme for June 2004 or for new and old scheme in April 2005 because no accuracy checks were performed during that month. Accuracy across old scheme cases on both systems has been recorded only since May 2005. Prior to May 2005, accuracy was measured only against those old scheme cases on the old computer system.

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