Child Support Agency: implementation of the child support reforms, thirty-seventh report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

Since it was established in 1993, the Child Support Agency has consistently underperformed, plagued by enormous backlogs of unprocessed cases and uncollected maintenance. Where it works well, the Agency has secured regular contributions from non-resident parents and helped lift an estimated 100,000 children out of poverty. It has to administer complex assessment, collection and enforcement processes and deal with complicated emotional, financial and legal issues to bring about a degree of financial stability for children and parents. Following on from a NAO report (HCP 1174, session 2005-06; ISBN 9780102938692) published in June 2006, the Committee's report examines the implementation of child support reforms, focusing on why the problems in implementing the reforms arose, the impact on the quality of service, the remedial action taken by the Child Support Agency and the lessons learnt. The report finds that implementing the reforms has cost the taxpayer £539 million since 2000, with plans for a further £320 million to improve service levels over the next three years; but the money has failed to deliver improvements in efficiency and quality of service. The Agency still performs less effectively than its counterparts in Australia and New Zealand, with higher average costs per case and lower rates of compliance. The Government published its White Paper (Cm. 6979, ISBN 9780101697927) in December 2006, drawing on the recommendations made by Sir David Henshaw in his report "Recovering child support: routes to responsibility" (Cm. 6984, ISBN 9780101689427). Amongst the reforms announced, the Government will replace the Child Support Agency (CSA) with a new organisation, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (C-MEC) by 2008.

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