Tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is being paid out to under-performing firms delivering the government's work programme, Whitehall's spending watchdog has warned.
'Flaws' in contracts drawn up with the companies delivering the welfare-to-work scheme means that even the worst-performing firms are expected to get bonuses, the National Audit Office has said.
It found that the bill is likely to reach £31 million in 2014-15, while it could have cost £6 million if more accurate measures of success had been used.
The way that contracts are drawn up also means that it is difficult for the government to fire companies which are failing to get good enough results, the NAO said.
The Department for Work and Pensions has disputed the facts of the report.
Sweeping changes to the way separated couples financially support their children have isolated single parents and made them feel like they are "going it alone", a 32-year-old mum has told Good Morning Britain.
Ayse Inal, who has a four-year-old son and a difficult relationship with his father, said she was "really angry, because the money that is supposed to be coming to my son, they [Child Maintenance Service] are actually going to be taking a portion of that money."
Parents who have split up will have to pay the Government "4p in the pound" if they need to use the new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) because they cannot be civil enough to come to informal arrangement themselves, the minister for pensions said.
Steve Webb assured Good Morning Britain the new system was "much more effective" than the previous Child Support Agency.
"If the Dad for example, gets a pay rise, we automatically go to tax records, update the figures so maintenance will go up every year there is a pay rise. That will help parents with children."
The new Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will start charging a "£50-£300 finding fee" to locate an ex-partner who has fallen behind on child support payments, it has emerged.
The Department for Work and Pensions is introducing sweeping reforms to the previously free CSA, including turning it into the CMS.
Other charges include:
- A £50 charge if the CMS has to arrange a deduction from an employer.
- A further £50 if they have to take a late child support payment out of a bank account.
- Taking a former partner to court will now cost £300.
The Government is writing to 52,000 parents to begin closing their Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangements and inform them of potential charges if they cannot come to an informal compromise.
A new agency called Child Maintenance Service will replace the CSA and will collect money on behalf of parents who fail to come to an informal agreement.
However, the Government will now start charging families for this service.
Parents have the option of a family based arrangement - which will cost nothing - or face a £20 charge if they use direct pay.
However, if one parent refuses to pay and the Child Maintenance Service intervenes then both adults will be charged.
An influential group of MPs said giving the taxman the power to recover money directly from personal bank accounts without some form of prior independent oversight would be "wholly unacceptable".
The Commons Treasury Committee also dismissed George Osborne's argument that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) already had similar powers to collect child maintenance.
The parallel is not exact: in those cases, DWP is acting as an intermediary between two individuals.
HMRC [HM Revenue and Customs] would be acting not as an intermediary between two individuals but rather in pursuit of its own objective of bringing in revenue for the Exchequer.
Our reforms are necessary to restore fairness to the system and make a better use of social housing. Unreformed, the Housing Benefit bill would have grown to £26 billion in 2013/14.We have given councils £345 million since reforms came in last year to support vulnerable groups, especially disabled people.
The removal of the spare room subsidy means we still pay the majority of most claimants' rent. But we are saving the taxpayer £1 million a day which was being paid for extra bedrooms and are freeing up bigger homes for people forced to live in cramped, overcrowded accommodation.
A Department for Work and Pensions minister has said he is 'pleased' that Atos will receive no compensation after it ended its contract with the Government over controversial assessments of whether benefits claimants are fit to work.
Minister "pleased that Atos will not receive a single penny of compensation from the taxpayer for early termination" #esa
Today we are announcing we are seeking a new provider to replace Atos for the Work Capability Assessment
In response to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude's admission that the implementation of the Universal Credit system has been "pretty lamentable", the Department for Work and Pensions has told ITV News Iain Duncan Smith has "not shied away from any tough decisions" over the policy:
DWP spox says Iain Duncan Smith has not shied away from any tough decisions in terms of Universal Credit development and implementation.