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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons his Department plans to give the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission the power to seek curfews; and if he will make a statement. 
Where other, more direct methods of enforcement have been tried but maintenance remains outstanding, we need adequate measures in place to encourage compliance from those who wilfully refuse or culpably neglect to pay child maintenance. And we believe that, in the right cases, applying to the court for a curfew order against the non-resident parent will indeed encourage that compliance.
We consider curfew orders to be an effective alternative to committal; it will create a strong incentive for the non-resident parent to comply but will not impede his or her ability to do so by causing him or her to lose his or her job.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of children in families receiving child maintenance (a) before and (b) after the introduction of the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The overall impact of the measures in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill 2007 are set out in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) which was published alongside the Bill. The number of parents with care estimated to receive maintenance, currently and post implementation of the measures in the Bill is set out in table 6 of the RIA. This equates to an increase from around 1 million children benefiting from maintenance currently to around 2 million children in steady state.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to place a legal duty on non-resident parents to report a change of income which is above the threshold for revised maintenance assessment as part of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission operations; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether it will be necessary, under the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, to carry out an annual income variation review for the majority of non-resident parents; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The intention is that each case will be subject to an annual review in order to keep maintenance calculations up to date with the parent's circumstances, including the income of the non-resident parent.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has periodically to review the standard percentage rates of income for child maintenance under the New Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will provide his assessment of the Child Support Agency's performance against its performance targets in the 12 months to 31 May 2007. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Secretary of State performance targets have been set for April 2007 to March 2008 and published in the Child Support Agency business plan. Progress against these targets for the quarter ending June 2007 will be available in the July publication of the Child Support Agency (CSA) Quarterly Summary Statistics, a National Statistics publication. A separate set of targets and levels were set for the period April 2006 to March 2007 and published in the Child Support Agency business plan for that year. Performance against the 2006-7 targets is available in the March 2007 publication of the Quarterly Summary Statistics.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the merits of collecting child maintenance directly from earnings as an addition to the pay as you earn system of taxation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: We are not considering moving the core functions of Child Maintenance to HMRC. We asked Sir David Henshaw to assess the merits of collecting child maintenance directly from earnings as part of the pay as you earn system. He concluded that this is not a sensible approach.
I refer the hon. Gentleman to paragraphs 123-6 of Recovering child support: routes to responsibility, Sir David Henshaws report to the Secretary of State for
Work and Pensions, and to paragraphs 45-6 of A fresh start: child support redesignthe Governments response to Sir David Henshaw.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons he plans to allow enabling consent orders for child maintenance made by a court to be overridden by a Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission calculation after 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: We have no plan to change the current rules whereby, consent orders for child maintenance, of more than 12 months duration, may be set aside by the Child Support Agency if a parent applies for a maintenance calculation. The 12 month rule works well, encouraging courts to record fair and consistent levels of child maintenance and ensuring that if circumstances change or agreements break down, parents have a quick route into the Child Support Agency and maintenance continues to flow to children.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimates he has made of the expected reduction in caseload under the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; and what proportion of the reduced case load is expected to be accounted for through (a) maintenance arrangements made privately, (b) maintenance arrangements through the courts and (c) no maintenance arrangements; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The exact composition of the future case load is subject to significant behavioural uncertainties and is entirely dependent on the choices that parents make. The following table shows the expected composition of the future case load once all of the policy changes have fully bedded in:
The Department for Work and Pensions is currently conducting further research to assess the choices that parents are likely to make through the Relationship Separation Survey which is due to be published in spring 2008. This survey will be used to develop and test these estimates further.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what threshold has been set for shared care to affect a child maintenance assessment under the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The shared care rules will remain largely as they are now. A non-resident parent will be entitled to a reduction in statutory maintenance if they care for a qualifying child for on average at least one night per week.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his policy is on shared care arrangements in relation to child maintenance payable under the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; whether a shared care maintenance reduction can be allowed in cases where no long-term shared care agreement is available; and if he will make a statement. 
Provisions in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill will allow for regulations to provide that a reduction in maintenance could be based either on past evidence of shared care, or on an agreement for future shared care arrangements. Other provisions will allow for regulations to provide that in cases where both parents have agreed that care of the children will be shared, but they have not yet reached an agreement on the pattern or frequency, the Commission will be able to proceed and reduce maintenance for a certain period on the basis of an assumption about shared care.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what penalties will be applied by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission when false information is supplied by non-resident parents in relation to child maintenance calculations; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: There are two criminal offences in relation to the supply of information in child maintenance cases. These are knowingly providing false information and failing to provide information where a request is made. A person guilty of either offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £1,000.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons the Government are delaying the increased child maintenance disregard to 2010-11; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Government expects to extend the £10 disregard to parents with care on benefit covered by the old scheme rules by the end of 2008. This should benefit 40,000 parents with care and 55,000 children. It is essential that children can benefit from maintenance that parents provide. The White Paper makes clear that, from 2010-11, the Government will significantly increase the amount of maintenance that all parents with care on benefit can keep before it affects the level of benefit they receive. This timescale enables further analysis to be undertaken on the potential impact of different levels of disregard on child poverty, compliance rates and work incentives.
Mr. Plaskitt: Analysis of data from the 2005-06 Family Resources Survey shows that around 40 per cent. of eligible lone parents in employment and around 15 per cent. of eligible lone parents who are not in employment report that they receive child maintenance.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what steps are being taken to ensure that a greater proportion of non-compliant non-resident parents face enforcement action; 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps are being taken to ensure a greater proportion of non-compliant, non-resident parents face enforcement action. [PQ146719] and
You also asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps are being taken to increase the proportion of females receiving payments from non-resident parents. [PQ146720]
The Agency is now in the second year of a three year Operational Improvement Plan. The first year of the Operational Improvement Plan focused on the organisational and operational restructuring of the Agency, and the training of our people to increase our capacity and capability.
Although we made no commitments in the first year of the Operational Improvement Plan, some early improvements are evident, and more money is already getting to more children. In the year to March 2007, the number of parents with care receiving maintenance saw an increase of 9% from 429,000 to 466,000, benefiting 635,000 children.
The second year of the Operational Improvement Plan, focuses on resolving the remaining computer system difficulties, and improving rates of compliance and the collection of child maintenance. Improvements to the computer system will help to further boost productivity, aid debt and legal enforcement activities and contribute to an increase in levels of case compliance. Building on the increase of our people, including quadrupling those employed in enforcement work, there will be stronger focus on the collection of debt. We will continue to work with debt collection agencies.
The Agency is also working to counter a culture of non-compliance among some non-resident parents. In March this year we launched the first phase of a sustained maintenance enforcement campaign, which highlighted the significantly increased enforcement action undertaken through the courts in the past year. The Agency has increased the use of liability orders, County Court Judgments and bailiff action, taking the total number of court actions to 34,000 in the year to January 2007 an increase of 36% from 25,000 in the previous year.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of how many jobseeker allowance recipients have refused jobs on grounds of (a) conscientious and (b) religious objections. 
In the period from 4 July 2006 to 3 July 2007, the Gender Recognition Panel issued 542 full gender recognition certificates and 26 interim gender recognition certificates. Interim certificates are issued to people who are in an existing marriage or civil partnership. They allow the holder to apply to the courts for his or her existing marriage or civil partnership to be annulled or dissolved and for a full gender recognition certificate to be issued signifying full legal recognition of the acquired gender.
Of the 26 interim certificate-holders, seven people have proceeded to obtain full certificates and five are currently going through the annulment or dissolution process. Some full certificates will also have been issued by the courts in this period following the issue of interim certificates by the panel prior to 4 July 2006. The exact number of these cases is not immediately available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information his Department has received from the Rent Service on the impact on housing benefit rates of the switch from using the median to the mean when calculating the relevant rates. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Rent Service has provided the Department with estimated median local housing allowance rates for a selection of local authorities. These were based on their existing market evidence database and were intended to be illustrative only and not an indication of what median local housing allowance rates will be for the 2008 roll-out.
The Rent Service have since set up dedicated teams of rent officers to lead a programme of analysis and collection of rental data to ensure that the local housing allowance rates remain robust and are representative of the private rented sector market.
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