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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on (a) his Department's projects to support access to British Sign Language and (b) the recruitment of tutors for this purpose. 
and a project providing practical workplace solutions at the point of need for interaction between deaf BSL users and hearing peoplean extensive online resource covering BSL awareness for employers and colleagues, including the deaf person's first day in a new job; opportunities to learn BSL from basic signs through to quite advanced levels; and work specific BSL dictionaries to be accessed by both deaf and hearing people.
BSL tutors were involved in developing, piloting and using the materials produced by the projects. A conference was held on 7 December 2005 to disseminate lessons learned and to raise awareness of and promote take-up of project outputs and products.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many deduction of earnings orders were imposed by the Child Support Agency in each year from 1991 to 1994; and if he will make a statement. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what plans he has to give the Child Support Agency powers to use (a) travel bans and (b) passport withdrawal as a child support enforcement tool; and if he will make a statement; 
30 Jan 2006 : Column 263W
Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many parents have been found to be avoiding paying the correct amount of child support in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the UK in each year since 1997. 
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many parents have been found guilty of avoiding paying the rightful amount of child support in (a) Jarrow constituency (b) South Tyneside (c) the North East and (d) the UK in each year since 1997.
Detailed information relating to committal proceedings is only available from the period from March 1999. Owing to the format in which this data is held, it is not possible to provide this data for the specific geographical areas requested on a yearly basis and only total numbers to date can be provided.
|Number of non resident parents sentenced since March 1999|
|North East of England||(97)41|
|Operational year||Total leavers|
|1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000||1656|
|1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001||1512|
|1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002||1757|
|1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003||1694|
|1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004||1887|
|1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005||1960|
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Child Support Agency cases there were in each year from 1997 to 2005 in (a) England, (b) Northamptonshire and (c) Wellingborough. 
Such information as is available is presented in the attached table. I apologise for the fact that this information cannot currently be disaggregated to the geographical level requested from February 2003 onwards.
|As at February:||England||Northamptonshire||Wellingborough|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many requests to HM Revenue and Customs for information regarding the income of non-resident parents were made by the Child Support Agency in each month over the last three years; and what the average time taken to respond was. 
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many requests to HM Revenue and Customs for information regarding the income of non-resident parents were made by the Child Support Agency in each month over the last three years; and what the average time taken to respond was.
Requests for earnings information originate from the Agency's caseworkers who are familiar with the standards underpinning the Service Level Agreement which details the services to be provided and the timescales for the provision of those services. Where these are not met, caseworkers will escalate on a case by case basis either directly with HMRC via their Trace Champion" or through a central Service Level Agreement Team to resolve any specific issues.
The arrangements with National Insurance Contributions Office are similar to that of The Centre for Revenue Intelligence although caseworkers will go directly to the central Service Level Agreement Team if the service falls below the required standard.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of change requests made by Ministers in relation to the CS2 computer system on the operations of the Child Support Agency. 
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of change requests made by Ministers in relation to the CS2 computer system on the operations of the Child Support Agency.
Change requests are made by the Agency not Ministers. Senior Agency officials rigorously review the reason for any change request to ensure it will deliver significant operational benefit. EDS are then asked to conduct impact assessments against all aspects of their IT service and provide a documented response. This response is reviewed by senior Agency officials who, based on the information provided, make a final decision on whether to proceed with the change.
Change requests are primarily made to incorporate new or amended functionality. This may be required for various reasons, but predominantly to address needs that could not be foreseen at the system development stagesuch as incorporating the requirement to transfer responsibility for payment of maintenance from Girobank to the Alliance and Leicester, for example.
The changes requested have improved the degree of support that the system provides to staff while processing cases and delivering customer service. This has included enhancements to our mechanisms for distributing workload, our automated exchange of information with Jobcentre Plus and the quality of automatically produced customer notifications.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) absence rates due to sickness and (b) turnover rates for Child Support Agency staff were for each month of the last calendar year. 
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost of compensation payments made to clients of the Child Support Agency for administrative errors was in each of the last five years. 
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total cost of compensation payments made to clients of the Child Support Agency for administrative errors was in each of the last five years.
Financial redress is made to clients in cases where maladministration has occurred. The Agency does not hold robust information to distinguish administrative errors from other acts of maladministration.
|Financial redress paid to clients|
There are still a number of defects in the CS2 computer system which can prevent some cases from progressing. The figures in the table below show the total number of cases requiring technical intervention to progress against all identified defects. These figures include cases currently being progressed clerically and cases for which no further action is required but which cannot be closed without technical intervention. The clerical process allows staff to progress these cases off-line to ensure that any money paid in by the non-resident parent is paid out to the parent with care.
|Total number of cases unable to progress without technical intervention|
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) face-to-face interviews have been provided, (b) complaints have been received, (c) cases have been referred to the Independent Case Examiner and (d) cases have been raised by hon. and right hon. Members with the Child Support Agency in each year since 1997; what the average cost of each has been in each year; and how policy on each has changed since 1997. 
(a) Information on face-to-face interviews is only available for 200203 for old scheme cases on CSCS, and in 200405 for all schemes. Details are included in the following table.
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Under the new legislation (introduced in March 2003), calculating maintenance requires less information and is quicker to establish therefore reducing the need for face-to-face interviews. This will have contributed to the fall in the numbers of interviews between 200203 and 200405.
The agency's face-to-face service was replaced in September 2005 with the Client Interviewing Service. This service provides interviews for clients who require
30 Jan 2006 : Column 270W
assistance. It also uses Compliance Inspector Teams to pursue clients, employers and other parties who fail to co-operate with the agency when required to do so.
During 200304 a three-tier complaints process was introduced. Stage 1 complaints are dealt with by the complaints resolution team located within each of the agency's six business units. Stage 2 complaints are an escalation to the relevant area director when the client is not satisfied with the outcome of stage 1; and stage 3 is an escalation to the chief executive if the client remains dissatisfied.
|Stage 1 complaints received (written)||27,875||28,073||21,015||19,634||15,493||15,182||24,809||29,213|
|Stage 1 complaints received (telephone)||(99)||||||||||(100)||7,458||10,570|
|Chief executive complaints||(101)||||||4,096||4,555||7,804||(102)||(103)|
|Treat official complaints||(101)(102)||||||2,609||2,869||1,344||1,521||1,108|
|MP complaints to business units||(101)||||||4,175||4,818||4,537||5,317||8,871|
The ICE can only accept cases that have completed the final stage of the agency's complaints process in the six months prior to the referral to ICE. Cases that concern matters of law, Government policy, have been (or are being) investigated by the parliamentary and health service ombudsman, cannot be accepted. Cases which cannot be accepted are referred back to the agency.
|Cleared by investigation on resolution or withdrawn||204||474||692||619||691||901||890||1,225|
|Annual budget (£)||1,025,675||920,960||1,040,811||1,176,087||1,623,765||1,873,880||2,224,374||2,469,933|
|Unit cost (£)||5,028||1,943||1,504||1,900||2,350||2,080||2,499||2,016|
(d) Unfortunately, it is not possible to say how many case specific complaints have been raised by hon. and right hon. Members. While the information presented in the table at part (b) shows complaints sent to business units by MPs, these can relate to both case specific and general issues, and cannot be broken down to identify the former. In addition, cases shown as being received by the chief executive are from MPs and also other bodies such as solicitors, pressure groups, local councillors and citizens advice bureaux. Again, this information recorded cannot be broken down further.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total amount of compensation paid to clients by the Child Support Agency (CSA) has been since 1997; and (a) how many and (b) what proportion of complaints about the CSA have been upheld by the Independent Case Examiner since 1997. 
|Amount of compensation paid|
|Cases fully investigated||Fully upheld||Partially upheld||Not|
|199798||148||57 (39%)||80 (54%)||11 (7%)|
|199899||229||73 (32%)||148 (65%)||8 (3%)|
|19992000||219||43 (20%)||155 (71%)||21 (9%)|
|200001||286||68 (24%)||195 (68%)||23 (8%)|
|200102||213||46 (22%)||141 (66%)||23 (12%)|
|200203||390||105 (27%)||214 (55%)||71 (18%)|
|200304||436||163 (37%)||214 (49%)||59 (14%)|
|200405||478||183 (37%)||241 (51%)||54 (11%)|
It should be noted that it is difficult to use this information to make meaningful comparisons over time due to changes in the way that information has been recorded. In particular whilst the volume of stage 1 written complaints undoubtedly rose between 200203 and 200304, this is likely to have been due in part to more rigorous recording of complaints received at the time, and the introduction by the Agency of a three tier complaints process during 200304.
It should also be noted that the volume of complaints has stabilised. In the twelve months up to November 2005, the Agency received a total of 54,000 complaints, this compares to 55,000 for the 12 months up to May 2005 (the earliest period for which comparable data for total numbers of complaints received is available).
|Stage 1 complaints received (written)||27,875||28,073||21,015||19,634||15,493||15,182||24,809||29,213||18,087|
|Stage 1 Complaints received (telephone)||(105)||(105)||(105)||(105)||(105)||(106)||7,458||10,570||7,038|
|Chief Executive Complaints||(107)||(107)||(107)||4,096||4,555||7,804||(108)||(109)||3,857|
|Treat Official Complaints(110)||(107)||(107)||(107)||2,609||2,869||1,344||1,521||1,108||817|
|MP Complaints to Business Units||(107)||(107)||(107)||4,175||4,818||4,537||5,317||8,871||6,488|
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many child support cases were referred to the special payments department at the Child Support Agency in each year since 2001; how many special payments were made; what the total cost of the special payments was; and how many people were paid special payments. 
Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer on 16 January 2006]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the right hon. Member with the information requested.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many child support cases were referred to the special payments department at the Child Support Agency in each year since 2001; how many special payments were made; what the total cost of the special payments was; and how many people were paid special payments.
The Agency does not hold sufficiently robust information to give you precisely the information requested. I apologise for this but can give you information on the number of cases referred to special payments, how many special payments have been made and the total cost of special payments between the period 1 December 2001 and 31st December 2005.
|Period||Cases referred to special payments||How many special payments made||Total cost of special payments in £ million|
|1 December 2001 to 31 March 2002||4,053||2,758||0.662|
|1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003||11,513||9,522||2.478|
|1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004||10,482||6,883||2.331|
|1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005||13,112||10,144||3.043|
|1 April 2005 to 31 December 2005||10,340||7,616||2.760|
1. The Agency does not hold sufficiently robust information prior to 1 December 2001 to provide data over the entire period requested. 2. Compensation payments cover financial redress, which are made to clients in cases where maladministration has occurred. The Agency does not hold robust information to distinguish administrative errors from other acts of maladministration. 3. Consolatory payments are made in support of an apology made by the Agency to any individual. Actual financial loss payments are made in those cases where maladministration has directly caused the customer to incur additional expenditure that would not have been incurred otherwise.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what powers the Independent Case Examiner has (a) to award and (b) to recommend the awarding of compensation by the Child Support Agency (CSA) in cases where the Examiner considers that the CSA has failed claimants. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Independent Case Examiner has no statutory authority to award compensation. However, she has authority to recommend the consideration of financial redress by the Child Support Agency in cases where she has identified maladministration in the way that the agency dealt with a client. Such recommendations may include the consideration of compensation for actual financial loss and consolatory payments in recognition of difficulties, anxiety and distress caused by agency maladministration.
The agency has agreed to implement her recommendations in all but exceptional circumstances, giving written reasons for not doing so to both the Case Examiner and the client. The agency decides the amount of the award in line with Department for Work and Pensions Guidance.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in how many cases in each of the last five years the Independent Case Examiner has found failure by the Child Support Agency; and in how many cases the Examiner recommended that the Agency should pay compensation. 
|Cleared by Investigation|||||||||||||
|Cleared by Resolution(111)||307||||431||||412|||
|Number of cases with recommendations(112)||n/a||||n/a||||519|||
|Number of financial redress recommendations(113)||1,117||||1,080||||868|||
|Cleared by Investigation|||||||||||||
|Cleared by Resolution(111)||376||||618||||2,144|||
|Number of cases with recommendations(112)||569||||856||||1,944|||
|Number of financial redress recommendations(113)||1,004||||1,604||||5,673|||
Mr. Plaskitt: In the new scheme a non-resident parent can apply for a variation" to the maintenance calculation to have special expenses" taken into account. In the old scheme either parent can apply for a departure" from the formula. One of the grounds on which a variation or departure can be applied for is where the non-resident parent (or in the old scheme the absent parent or parent with care) has expenses relating to debts which arose before the non-resident parent became a non-resident parent, and at the time that the non-resident parent and the parent with care were living together.
The debts must have been incurred for the joint benefit of both parents, or their children, or for the benefit of the other parent but where the person applying remains legally responsible for the repayments.
Only the expenses exceeding a certain threshold are allowed. In the current scheme the threshold is set at £10 a week where the non-resident parent's net weekly income is below £200, and £15 a week where it is £200 or more. In the old scheme the threshold is £15 a week for all cases.
A departure or variation is only allowed where it is just and equitable" to do so. Broadly this means that the result of the variation or departure must be fair taking account of all the circumstances of the case, and, in particular, the welfare of any child likely to be affected. This includes the child for whom maintenance is paid as well as any other children living with either parent.
30 Jan 2006 : Column 276W
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2006, Official Report, column 611W, on the Child Support Agency, how many outstanding applications from people in (a) Guildford and (b) Surrey were received more than (i) six months and (ii) 12 months ago. 
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many formal complaints his Department has received regarding the Child Support Agency from people in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in each year since 1997. 
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