LETTER: Calling the CSA to account

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The Independent Online
From Lord Russell

Sir: Since Tony Ward (letter, 16 October) is accusing Polly Toynbee of "recycling information" which comes from the Liberal Democrats, I may be allowed a right of reply.

I am always ready to listen to serious statistics, providing I can understand how they were arrived at. I would therefore like to ask Mr Ward some questions about the pounds 479m of savings in social security benefits which he credits to the Child Support Agency.

First, can he confirm or deny that any single parent who comes off benefits for whatever reason is included in these figures?

Second, does he agree with Andrew Mitchell MP in his letter to Liz Lynne MP of 6 September that single parents may come off benefit for many other reasons, such as getting a job or getting married?

Third, can he give us a comparison between the single parent who came off benefits since the introduction of the CSA and during the period before its introduction?

Finally, has he found a way of correcting his figures to ensure that the CSA does not claim credit for any improvements resulting from the Chancellor's decision in 1993 to increase the benefit disregard for single parents on family credit?

When Mr Ward has answered these questions, we could have something to talk about.



House of Lords

London, SW1

16 October

The writer is Liberal Democrat social security spokesman.