CMS Arrears Write Offs

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The Child Maintenance Service has the ability to write off arrears in cases where this may be appropriate.

Someone has asked them to provide the data on this as follows:

Please provide the numbers of cases in 2015, 2016, and 2017 in which you have written off arrears in excess of £65.00

If any of these arrears include inherited CSA arrears please provide a breakdown of these.

The DWP/CMS replied to say:

To comply with your request each case file would need to be analysed and we estimate that this would exceed the appropriate cost limit, which for central Government has been set in Regulations at £600

Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply with your request and we will not be processing it further.

So the DWP/CMS are saying that they don’t have an easy way to run a report across their case management system to determine how many cases have had any arrears or part-arrears written off in excess of the £65 limit.

Perhaps the DWP should review why their modern accounting system doesn’t allow this level of reporting.

The reason why this is of interest is because the CMS is struggling under an ever-increasing workload of cases and arrears are increasing not decreasing.

There is an argument to be made about whether the arrears figures quoted by the CMS are legit, [EDITOR’S NOTE: and by their own account a substantial proportion are not as highlighted here] and in cases where there is doubt over the arrears amounts there is a provision to write off some or all of the arrears on a case.

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