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Rough Sleepers, Gloucestershire

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Ferrers: The Government do not expect changes to the housing benefit system for single people under 25 years of age to increase the number of people sleeping rough. Young single people will still be entitled to housing benefit on a reasonable level of rent for accommodation which is appropriate to their needs.

Common Agricultural Policy: Costs

The Earl of Kimberley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Lucas: I shall answer these questions together.

Expenditure on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the United Kingdom is forecast at £3.0 billion for the 1996-97 financial year. In addition, we contribute to expenditure in other member states through our net contribution to the EC budget. Our theoretical share of the cost of the CAP budget for 1996 would be around £3.5 billion after the Fontainebleau abatement is taken into account. Our receipts are estimated at £2.7 billion.

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In addition, the CAP imposes costs on consumers estimated for 1993 at some £3 per week per person. A note setting out the calculations of the costs to UK taxpayers and consumers has been placed in the Library of the House.

Child Support Agency

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Child Support Agency is able to resolve disputes about whether it has or has not received maintenance payments by examination of its own bank records.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Miss Ann Chant, She will write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Earl Russell from the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, Miss Ann Chant, dated 1st April 1996.

I am replying to your parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about maintenance payments received by the Child Support Agency.

The agency is indeed able to resolve disputes about maintenance payments received by reference to its own records.

The agency's Client Funds Group has responsibility for recording the Client Funds Bank Account to the Agency's Child Support Computer System on a daily basis. Consequently Client Funds Group know exactly what funds have, or have not, been lodged in the account, should a dispute arise.

I hope this is helpful.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the third report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Investigation of Complaints against the Child Support Agency) Appendix 1(a), whether they will publish a breakdown, distinguishing the actual from the optative, of Miss Ann Chant's statement that "during its first three years the Agency expects that it will have . . . saved the taxpayer £1.4 billion in reduced social security expenditure", making clear whether the figure is gross or net of administrative costs incurred by the Child Support Agency and the Department of Social Security, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, and other public bodies.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Earl Russell from the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, Miss Ann Chant, dated 1st April 1996.

I am replying to your parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government about savings in social security

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expenditure resulting from the actions of the Child Support Agency.

The £1.4 billion in reduced social security expenditure to which I have referred is taken from the sum of the benefit savings achieved in the first two years of the agency's operations, together with the forecast to be achieved in the current year. The exact outturn for 1995/96 will not be known until after the end of the financial year.

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The savings in benefit referred to are without any deductions for administrative costs; these do not come out of the social security benefit budget.

Savings in benefit expenditure for the first two years of the agency and the forecast for 1995/96, together with the agency's total administrative costs for each of the three years of its operations are shown on the attached sheet.

I hope this is helpful.

YearBenefit savings/ForecastSavings achievedAgency administrative costs
£ million£ million£ million
1993/94530418139
1994/95460479192
1995/96(1)510510195
Total1,5001,407526

(1) Information provided is a projection to year end. It assumes that the benefit savings forecast set is achieved and that there is no variance in the administrative budget.


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Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Section 7 of the third report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, Investigation of Complaints against the Child Support Agency, why cases of the type reported where the Child Support Agency unduly delayed payment received from the absent parent to the parent with care are not routinely discovered by the audit of the Child Support Agency's accounts, and what happens to the interest received on the money pending such delay.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Earl Russell from the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, Miss Ann Chant, dated 1st April 1996.

I am replying to your parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about payments of maintenance made to the Child Support Agency.

The Secretary of State has set the agency a target of 90 per cent. of all payments to be made to the parent with care within 10 working days of receipt from the absent parent. The agency is currently achieving 97 per cent. Within the outstanding 3 per cent. are all the instruments of payment which have not been honoured.

In the few cases where undue delay arises between transferring a maintenance payment from the Absent Parent (AP) to the Parent With Care (PWC), it is indeed the agency's policy to identify such cases from its records and make an interest payment to the PWC subject to fulfilling certain criteria.

These are where it has taken longer than 28 days to pass on the payment to the PWC, where the amount of maintenance exceeds £33.33 and where the interest due to the PWC exceeds £5.00. This policy relates to such situations from 1.4.95 when the agency's bank commenced paying interst for funds on deposit. Prior to 1.4.95 the agency did not receive interest from the bank for funds deposited. Instead it had been agreed that the agency would not be charged for its transactions.

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The first payments under these new arrangements were processed on 19th March 1996.

I hope this is helpful.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the third report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Investigation of Complaints against the Child Support Agency) Appendix 1(c), how Miss Ann Chant's estimate that the agency "has impacted on the lives of over six million adults since its formation" was arrived at.'

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Earl Russell from the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, Miss Ann Chant, dated 1st April 1996.

I am replying to your parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government about the impact of the Child Support Agency on people's lives.

The Child Support Agency has been involved with 1.6 million cases. Each of these involves a parent with care and at least one absent parent. In addition, new partners of either or both clients are involved.

My estimate that the Child Support Agency has had an effect on the lives of 6 million adults is therefore quite reasonable.

I hope this is helpful.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the third report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Investigation of Complaints against the Child Support Agency) Section 1(i), whether they accept the Commissioner's findings on deduction from earnings orders, that "it is a common experience that it is difficult to persuade the CSA that such an order is not needed once it has been imposed".

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief

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Executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Earl Russell from the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, Miss Ann Chant, dated 1st April 1996:

I am replying to your parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government concerning deductions from earnings orders.

The Child Support Agency accepts the commissioner's comments on the discharge of deductions from earnings orders: these findings reflect the current and correct application of the Child Support Regulations by the agency.

The circumstances in which a properly imposed deductions from earnings order may be discharged are governed by the Child Support (Collection and Enforcement) Regulations. Where an effective order satisfies the procedures, jurisdiction and information requirements of these regulations, the agency must consider the question of whether another form of payment would be more effective.

Deductions from earnings orders are a particularly effective means of ensuring that parental responsibilities are met and the parent with care receives regular maintenance without disruption. However, they are only imposed as a last resort when all other voluntary means of securing payment of legally-due child maintenance have failed. Before an order is imposed, the absent parent is notified of the agency's ability to pursue this course of action. At this stage, the absent parent may approach the agency and propose an alternative method of paying maintenance.

It is only when the agency is satisfied that another, more effective method of securing maintenance is not readily available that a deductions from earnings order will be imposed. The commissioner's findings on the experience of absent parents are a consequence of this.

I hope this is helpful.


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