Debts to Child Support Agency pass £1bn mark

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Indy Politics

Outstanding child maintenance debts owed to the Child Support Agency have reached more than £1bn, according to figures released yesterday.

Debts now stand at £527m, of which £157m is thought to be "possibly uncollectable", according to Parliamentary written answers obtained by the Liberal Democrats. But the CSA'sannual report, published last week, show that another £556.4m from previous years has already been written off.

The agency has been dogged by bitter complaints about errors and income assessments since it was established in 1993.

The Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman, Steve Webb, said: "Hundreds of thousands of children are not getting the financial support that is theirs by right. Performance targets that are not met are scrapped and the suffering of families goes on. It is time for the Government to admit that the CSA has been a fiasco from the start and to scrap it."

However, the Department of Work and Pensions said radical reform of the system would cut the time taken to assess claims and free staff to improve collecting maintenance.