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28 Nov 2005 : Column 70W—continued

Incapacity Benefit

17. Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on incapacity benefit reform. [31698]

Margaret Hodge: The numbers of people claiming incapacity benefits has been falling for the first time in nearly 30 years, with a drop of 41,000 in the year to May 2005.

Our reforms of the benefit will build on this success by introducing the strong rights and appropriate responsibilities sorely lacking in the present system where long-term inactivity was actively created to cover for a failing economy.

Our benefit reform will continue the success of our ground-breaking Pathways to Work pilots that have already resulted in nearly 20,000 job starts. We are going to look at what works and introduce a national system that will, for the first time, help to fulfil the aspirations of the nearly 9 in 10 people coming onto incapacity benefit who want to work again.

22. Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what role he expects the private and voluntary sectors to play in his reform of incapacity benefit. [31704]

Margaret Hodge: Helping people on incapacity benefits back to work requires the concerted effort of all sectors working in partnership. The success of our ground breaking Pathways to Work pilots has shown what can be achieved with this approach. We will be using the lessons and best practices learnt in these pilots in the development of our welfare reform policy.

Child Support Agency

18. Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of maladministration there have been by the Child Support Agency over the last eight years. [31699]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information the hon. Member is requesting is not held for all of the last eight years. However, since April 2002, 706 cases of maladministration have been found by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and 1,334 by the Independent Case Examiner.

In the period 1 December 2001 to 10 November 205, a total of 35,558 special payments for maladministration were made by the agency.
 
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Maladministration ranges all the way between an unanswered letter and failure to collect maintenance.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the change in the annual maintenance payments of the Child Support Agency which would result from full compliance of all assessed claims in Scotland; [31631]

(2) what the backlog of Child Support Agency claims made by claimants resident in Scotland was under (a) the old system and (b) the new system for each month since January 2004; [31633]

(3) what estimate he has made of the (a) annual running costs of the Child Support Agency in Scotland and (b) annual savings in benefits in Scotland as a consequence of Child Support Agency maintenance payments for each year since 1996; [31634]

(4) what the average time taken is to process new Child Support Agency maintenance claims made by claimants resident in Scotland. [31635]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information requested is not available.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many non-resident parents there are with outstanding Child Support Agency cases where the main source of income comes from self-employment; in how many of these cases money has been received since 1997; and what the average amount is of maintenance paid by (a) non-resident parents overall and (b) non-resident parents who are self-employed. [18784]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty to Mr. David Laws dated 28 November 2005:

1.Quarterly figures are provided because this is consistent with the Agency's compliance measurement. It also takes account of the variations in NRP payment patterns which make it difficult to produce an accurate average over a shorter time frame 2.This excludes cases for which no maintenance was due via the collection service (e.g. cases with a nil liability and maintenance direct).
 
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3.The figures quoted relate to the average amount of maintenance received per case, as opposed to the value of the average calculation. A non-resident parent can pay maintenance in respect of more than one case. 4.The figures for the self-employed presented reflect the status of the non-resident parent currently held on the system as of the last intervention by the Agency. This will not necessarily reflect the current status of the non-resident parent if the Agency has not been informed of (or not yet actioned) a change of circumstances. 5.Figures are rounded to the nearest pound.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the ratio between the annual costs of the Child Support Agency and the annual maintenance paid through the Agency has been in each quarter since 1995–96; and if he will make a statement. [21443]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty to Mr. David Laws, dated 28 November 2005:


Agency annual costs
(£ million)
Maintenance paid
(£ million)
Ratio
2004–05325.60578.701 :1.8
2003–04323.00580.091 :1.8
2002–03294.30570.691 :1.9
2001–02290.40526.801 :1.8
2000–01250.00498.861 :2.0
1999–2000260.30457.441 :1.8
1998–99231.20389.961 :1.7
1997–98225.90298.801 :1.3
1996–97224.50207.751 :0.9
1995–96199.30128.631 :0.6

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when the National Audit Office last signed off the Child Support Agency's accounts; and if he will make a statement. [21446]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty to Mr. David Laws, dated 28 November 2005:


 
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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's (a) target and (b) latest performance is for the time taken to process new Child Support Agency maintenance claims. [21449]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty to Mr. David Laws, dated 28 November 2005:


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