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Child Support News/Blog

By: Clare Birtles - Updated: 6 May 2024 | comments*Discuss

Dodgy CSA Finances for 2nd Year Running

15th May 2012

Once again the Auditor General has refused to sign off the accounts of the Child maintenance and enforcement commission. In our last blog, we were discussing CSA errors and mentioned that in fact, the same thing happened last year! The auditor's report, released yesterday noted that while some improvements had been made in the accounting procedures, there were still errors caused by "inaccurate maintenance assessments by caseworkers and incorrect processing of cases with arrears".

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) administers statutory child maintenance schemes using the systems, processes and staff - that were transferred over from what was (and still is) generally referred to as the CSA. Later this year a shake up of the child maintenance rules and processes will see the end of the current system, but it will still be run by the CMEC (under the DWP umbrella) and we suspect may use the same IT systems and collection processes. So what's the difference? Well we know people will be charged to have their maintenance cases processed via the comission rather than via personal arrangements and we know they'll be basing the maintenance levels on a whole tax year rather than a few wage slips. But are they changing staff attitudes or IT arrangements? If so how much will that be costing the country?

Children were the reason that child support laws were put in place in the UK. Should we really be spending our money on the problems that could/should rationally be agreed by parents in order to give their kids the best help in life? Come on all you caring parents, forget your differences and agree on what's best for the children not what's best for you. Let's leave the CMEC to deal with the real 'no hope' parents who simply don't care enough to pay what's needed to bring up their own children. We do know that under the new system more parents will be encouraged to come to some agreement through mediation...let's hope it works.

CSA Mistakes, Theft...What Next?

8th May 2012

It seems the problems of the beleaguered CSA are not just restricted to inefficiency and lethargy. A Plymouth CSA worker has been found filtering £1000s of CSA payments into her own bank account. Around £7000 of cash due to claimants was transferred to the personal bank account of CSA clerk Clair Jones, who was found guilty and is due to be sentenced on 23rd May. So what trust should we place in the CSA? Do they offer compensation to claimants if they get it wrong?

We're regularly contacted by readers citing instances where the CSA has got it badly badly wrong. There've been many high profile cases in the news too. Gavin McEwen's partner Louise left him after opening a letter addressed to Gavin from the CSA, demanding payment for a child he had supposedly fathered 3 years previously. It took over a year to clear the matter up (which was down to clerical error) - he had no connection to either the child or the child's mother! Gavin and Louise, who were later reunited, were offered a mere £100 in compensation by the CSA.

Builder Tony Brown, had already been supporting his child through an amicable arrangement with his ex-partner for 10 years, when he received a bill from the CSA for over £60,000. Tony's ex partner Vicky had never put in a claim to the CSA and was perfectly happy with the arrangement she had with Tony. At the time a spokesman for the CSA said "...we do not need a mother to make a claim, either. If she is drawing benefits then a claim will automatically be started." Obviously without bothering to check whether maintenance payments or arrangements are already in place!

Even the government's own official spending watchdog rejected the accounts of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (set up to replace the Child Support Agency) after uncovering millions of pounds of payments that had been incorrectly made and a £3.69bn backlog in uncollected debts.

Will the new arrangements being proposed by government be more successful? We're waiting and watching on that one.

Our advice if you're newly separated, is to try and come to an arrangement yourself if at all possible. Formalise it legally or through mediation and if you need to claim benefits, inform the CSA that arrangements are already in place to avoid an automatic claim being started up.

If you cannot make arrangements outside of the CSA then here's what to do if they get it wrong.

The CSA's Last Bid for Fame!

30th April 2012

So, EastEnders star Jamie Foreman has promised to keep paying £400 a month towards his Child Support Agency debt of £51,000 for his two sons, now 22 and 20. The magistrates have warned Foreman that he faces prison if he fails to keep up payments. This high profile case seems to have injected the CSA with some uncharacterist fervour; most of your comments to us bemoan its inadequacy and lack of progress. Is this a last bid to retrieve some public dignity before its closure later this year?

The case itself has raised a few questions with us. Firstly how has the debt got to that level in the first place? Has the CSA really been chasing him for the last 15 or so years, and if so how much has it cost the taxpayer? Finally, how did his kids survive during the time when he clearly wasn't paying? What good will it do them now? Child support is there to do just that...'support' the children as they grow up, providing them with food, clothing and a roof over their heads. Not that he shouldn't pay up now of course...

As always, your comments are welcome!

In the meantime, we've managed to uncover some more information about what may be replacing the current Child Support Agency. The new agency in charge of child support will be the "Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission" and will come under the DWP's (department for work and pensions) umbrella. The focus of the new system will apparently be on getting parents to work together and share their financial responsibility for their children. Maintenance calculations will be based on the 'gross income' of the non-resident parent (NRP) and will be based on the latest tax year information held by HMRC. The idea being that using information from one source will help to reduce the time taken to calculate child maintenance. The amount calculated will stay the same for the duration of the tax year unless there is a change in income greater than 25%.

What's more controversial, is that certain charges will be levied. The government hopes that this will deter people from using the system where they could come to an arrangement on their own. With an upfront application charge of £100 to be paid by the applicant and a collection charge of 15% to 20%, it's not going to come cheaply.

Will this encourage more cooperation between parents? What about those errant parents who are hard to track down? It's certainly one to watch...and we will be.

CSA to close this year?

25th April 2012

Rumours about the closure of the Child Support Agency have been flying for some time, but according several online sources, a date of July 2012 has now been set for its closure.

Details of what will happen to existing cases are not clear, but it's thought that many cases will be closed and claimants forced to re-apply and pay an application fee into the bargain. We will keep you posted on the correct details when we have them.

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DORA SMITH - 9-Apr-23 @ 2:37 PM
My nightmare started with the instigation of the CMS. I was paying mutually and didn’t miss a payment - Could see my child as and when with no restriction - my ex doesn’t deal with me - all contact is through her husband - no one cares that my child is used as a weapon against me. I had to fight through the courts to regain contact & Reduce CMS as CMS took RP word that zero nights No contact was gospel got told by my barrister to take the contact that my ex would agree to and walk away with an order, I have now reduced my income by half to half my liability whilst the order is broken over & over by husband - on way back to court for a re - inforcement - lets roll a dice & see what the outcome will be... shambolic & archaic system - it’s in the interest to break the NRP as no longer in the life of the RP & maximum financial benefits through CMS - No one will enforce this as abuse because a child is in the middle it’s family law problem - family law only look at child not disputes between parents so the RP get away with everything Scott free,
TimmyT - 2-Aug-20 @ 9:53 AM
My nightmare started with the instigation of the CMS. I was paying mutually and didn’t miss a payment - Could see my child as and when with no restriction - my ex doesn’t deal with me - all contact is through her husband - no one cares that my child is used as a weapon against me. I had to fight through the courts to regain contact & Reduce CMS as CMS took RP word that zero nights No contact was gospel got told by my barrister to take the contact that my ex would agree to and walk away with an order, I have now reduced my income by half to half my liability whilst the order is broken over & over by husband - on way back to court for a re - inforcement - lets roll a dice & see what the outcome will be... shambolic & archaic system - it’s in the interest to break the NRP as no longer in the life of the RP & maximum financial benefits through CMS - No one will enforce this as abuse because a child is in the middle it’s family law problem - family law only look at child not disputes between parents so the RP get away with everything Scott free,
TimmyT - 2-Aug-20 @ 9:53 AM
i was paying mutually and providing my son with all his needs ie clothing ect and maintaining a healthy relationship with him , i was suffering in the way of all the material things i was buying for him were not being looked after and his overnight bag was consisting of holes in socks whilst being damp and smelling of a not very nice stench! she has now become very jealous that i have a good job and work hard and has just stopped our arrangement due to her holding me ransom to money ! i now have the new system of child maintenance taking over a hundred pound a week ! my son is in rags and doesnt see a fraction of that money so i am basically supporting her. my son is in full time education and she has no reason to not find a job and financially support herself ! i have had social services involved in the past with my son due to his welfare with her, not one person has stopped to see how this is affecting my son he is missing time at school , and all this time they are sending my private information of my earnings which has no concern to her only for her to show the world ! i have said i would have my son equally and provide for him in sharing all his school costs and clothing and day to day livingthat would leave me no need to pay his mum or any other authority would it not , and my son will have a better life , all she does is drink and use my money to fund herself , couldn`t be more wrong could it ! so well done to this organisation for ruining childrens lives and relationships with the few dads trying to bring their children up right and with good morals !
D - 29-Jul-16 @ 12:34 PM
My ex-husband is threatening to stop paying or reduce child maintenance which is only £1,000 (including my rent £500). I do not receive any spousal maintenance. He has already reduced the sum he was ordered to pay before making an application to amend the Court order. Since the birth of the children, I have not worked and looked after the children. And because I have not worked (which was agreed by him as well), he is using the Wright v/s Wright judgement (which has no resemblance to our situation) to reduce child support: "once children reach "Year 2" or age seven, there is an expectation that the primary caregiver will start part-time work and make a financial contribution" . I will also like to add that my ex-husband is actually renting our joint matrimonial home without my consent, thus pocketing the rental income which is in fact financing child maintenance. Could you please advise if the "Year 2" judgement is the law?
Elena - 12-Jul-16 @ 7:45 AM
The CSA admitted they had overcharged me £2500 but refused to refund , My MP is aware of this and refuses to Tackle. The CSA laughed at me when I said I would take it up with my MP and told me that my MP would do nothing. So the CSA know they can steal money from your wages to balance their books . First we had MP's fiddling expenses now we have MP's that support theft by failing to address reported issues. Why would anyone vote thieves into Power ? BLATANT THEFT AND SUPPORT OF THEFT BY MY MP
THEIVES - 26-Nov-15 @ 11:37 PM
@ sick of the csa: a load of money grabbing slags? it does actually take two, perhaps you should have put something on the end of it.
davey - 26-Jun-12 @ 11:31 AM
I disagree. The CSA has given the green light to a load of money grabbing slags to get a free income. The amounts they take are ridiculous. Are they seriously saying the £400 a month I pay is correct? Surely this should be matched by my ex, so we're saying it she spends £800 per month on the child, bull-crap. The excuses from the government are equally pathetic, and I have taken the time to contact them about this. There's no dispensation for household bills whatsoever - why? Because you might mortgage and take out loans to reduce your payments. Yes, I am that pathetic that I will finance myself up to the hilt and run the risk of losing my house, just so I can pay less CSA, it's a crap excuse because they don't want the hassle of being reasonable. It's far easier to punish the father with punitive payments, than it is to provide a system which caters for both sides and is reasonable. There's no upper limit to CSA deductions - an indication of flawed, unreasonable, unfair system. My ex chose to leave. She chose to move where she lives now - I still live in the same place, yet there's no dispensation for the amount of money it costs me to travel to see my child because it's not enough nights a week. It's simply impossible to see her every week, the distance is too far and I have to work, otherwise she's get nothing. The CSA and that idiot John Major have created a system of misery, rather than work with parents who separate, they introduced an unreasonable system which people actively try to avoid because it is so unfair. If it were more reasonable you'd probably have more payments being made to actually support children.
Sick of the CSA - 12-Jun-12 @ 11:44 AM
I am not yet divorced .(2.5 years still waiting). I want to claim csa I have the children Mon to Friday the dad has them fri evening until mon morning.it has been this way since we split. Mainly due to the fact the dadswork takes him abroad weekly for more than 3 wks out of four. He chose to work away .there were other options . I have them 4 nights he has them 3 nights some occasions If he has to be away early morning I have them Sunday nights . I work full time.As I have had the routine for so long I decided totake on a 2nd wkend job , for the extra money. andas i missed the kids and had no choice but to let him have the children as he is unable to see them in the weekbecause of his job I wanted to fill my time up usefully. Now he has a new relationship he wants to change the routine to fit in around his personal life . He states that his job is constantly changing work shifts . But wants a set change in routine which is obv impossible as his work is always changing! He pays the mortgage as Istill live in the family home his choice to pay. He also knows the mortgage is a lot less of an outgoing money wise than csa would be on his salary. Can I still claim csa ? Thanks help very confused mum!
Tiffany - 9-Jun-12 @ 11:47 AM
The CSA is a joke! I have waited 4 years for a tribunal hearing. Men who are self employed aka my ex husband - are able to use the CSA to their advantage! The CSA calculated that my ex should pay £0. All based on two payslips! My ex owns a tax avoidance business, therefore makes a living out of pulling the wool over the tax mans eyes! I bid farewell to a usual system, but do not expect much more from the new procedure. I believe child maintenance should be dealt with in court. Only experience judges should be dealing with such a complicated, important and stressful matter.
K - 23-May-12 @ 8:39 PM
@mummy1 - I agree that many couples give up too easily, but there are plenty who have genuine reason for splitting - it seems that when one couple is bitter about the split, that's when it turns nasty. As for young kids who have babies early in life - maybe we need to educate our young people more about the real impact of having a baby?
LastResort - 16-May-12 @ 9:07 AM
Why have we got it so wrong in this country ...the poor father having maintanence and other bills /families to support - I dont feel sorry for him . This country needs to do more to support the maintanence of family. there are so many divided families now and people having multiple marriages and children that broken homes are more the normal = increasing I'm sure unhealthy lifestyles , stress and therefore work sickness levels etc. How family history of disease and chronic conditions will be tracked in the future doesn't bear thinking about All of this is a very sad reflection on the 'must have' society we live in Divorce should be made the last resort with children under 18 - counselling should be mandatory ...instead generally one partner is already in someone else's bed
Mummy1 - 10-May-12 @ 8:14 AM
This high profile case just demonstrates the ridiculous nature of maintanence . Whilst questionable why it has taken so long ...why such a minimal payment . This will take him over 10years to pay off the debt !!
Mummy1 - 10-May-12 @ 8:06 AM
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