Child Poverty and the CSA

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that children are also being pushed into poverty because his Department is not pursuing errant non-resident fathers vigorously enough? As he knows, my constituent Lisa Jones, a hard-working single mother, has been totally frustrated by the lackadaisical attitude of the Child Support Agency in tracking down the father, despite knowing his mother’s address, when he owes £23,000 and she has been struggling on tax credits and housing benefits to bring up a teenage boy while the father takes exotic holidays and avoids court orders. Will the right hon. Gentleman stop his weasel-worded replies to me and sort this matter out now?

Mr Duncan Smith: I completely agree that in the right hon. Gentleman’s individual case, which I do know about and I recognise, that money should go to the parent with care. We fully agree with that and the CSA, part of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, is bearing down to try and get the details of this individual. As he knows, this case is a little complicated because the individual moves time and again before the agencies can get hold of him, but I have to say that I have already intervened by talking to them about this, and I promise the right hon. Gentleman this, and ask him to pass this on to his constituent: I personally will take direct interest in this because it is outrageous that this individual gets away with what he is doing. I have told the CMEC that it must bear down on these cases. The reforms we are bringing in will do just that, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman can reassure his constituent that we will sort this out.

Mr Speaker: There will be a further report to the House on the matter in due course. I am quite confident of that.