Work and Pensions Committee Press Notice

COMMITTEE WELCOMES GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CSA RECOMMENDATIONS

The Work and Pensions Committee welcomes the Government's acceptance of their key recommendation to stop major reductions in front line staff.

The Department's new Business Transformation Programme is also set to encompass many of the Committee's recommendations and we (or our successor Committee) will be monitoring its implementation in the future.

Whilst the Committee is pleased the Government has taken on board many of the recommendations in the report, MPs remain disappointed that the Department has failed to set a date by which the Agency's computer system would be operating satisfactorily.

There is still no indication of when 'old' scheme cases will be moved onto the new scheme and the Agency appears to be no closer to meeting the aim of establishing payment arrangements within six weeks of a child support claim being submitted.

The Committee also regrets that the Department has failed to introduce the child maintenance premium for cases on the 'old' scheme.

Commenting on the Government response, the Chairman of the Committee, Sir Archy Kirkwood, said:

"While I am of course pleased that the Government has agreed with many of the Committee's recommendations, our concern was, and is, for the thousands of people who are suffering because of the inadequacy of the CSA and its computer system. The absence of a confirmed date for acceptable performance by the CSA, while understandable, is a major shortcoming in the Government's response.  Lone parents will feel that once again unquantified promises will leave them without the support they so desperately need".

The Committee is also pleased that:

  • The Department has now set a challenging debt reduction target, together with a debt strategy to tackle the millions of pounds of unpaid child support.

  • The Department is now examining the feasibility of the recommendation to introducing travel bans.

  • The Department is investigating the Committee's recommendation that those paying child support through deductions from earning orders should have their P45 forms marked and the orders should be automatically transferred to new employers.

  • That new performance statistics are now available, although they are still not robust enough to enable detailed analysis.

  • That a paper on the cost of the delayed introduction of the new computer system (CS2) will be submitted to the Committee and used in the commercial negotiations with EDS.