Thursday, August 07, 2008

Is the CSA getting its act together?

The Child Support Agency has reported that "more children than ever before are benefiting from child maintenance". Their latest Quarterly Summary of Statistics show that 768,000 children are now benefiting from maintenance payments - an increase of 207,000 since March 2005, before the Agency's Operational Improvement Plan was launched in February 2006. The Agency collected or arranged over £1.05 billion nationally in a 12 month period, including £137.6m arrears - both of these figures are records. Other figures:
  • The percentage of parents paying child maintenance is up to 68%, putting the Agency on track to meet its 69% target by March 2009, which it claims "will make it comparable to the best performing child support agencies around the world".
  • The volume of uncleared 'current scheme' applications is at the lowest level since August 2003, at 91,300.
  • 81% of new applications received in March 2008 were cleared within 12 weeks, up on the target standard of 68%.
  • The Agency answered 99% of telephone calls available to answer, with an average waiting time of 18 seconds, up from 84% answered with a waiting time of 1 minute 40 seconds in March 2005.
All of this sounds like great news, and indeed it is, so long as your case isn't one of the 32% where the other parent isn't paying, or one of the 91,000 uncleared applications, or one of the 19% that has taken more than 12 weeks to deal with. I hear what the Agency says about being comparable to the best performing child support agencies around the world, but a target of getting little more than two thirds of parents to pay doesn't seem that ambitious to me. That leaves a huge number of children suffering from economic hardship.

2 comments:

  1. Victor Dewsbery7 August 2008 at 10:40

    Don't know the percentages over here, and I'm heading away for the weekend so I won't be able to research for a few days, but I know that in Germany the application for child maintenance can be submitted to the local social services (not sure whether this is in all cases or only if there are problems obtaining the money from the non-resident parent). The social services then pay maintenance for the child and take responsibility for collecting the money from the other parent (if that is possible). So even if the other parent is broke, there is still a maintenance payment for the child, although obviously a cooperating and prosperous non-resident parent would presumably be able to pay more.

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  2. Interesting. I didn't know anything about the German system. Our system is usually compared with systems in other English-speaking countries, such as Australia. I doubt whether the Government would be prepared to fund such a system over here!

    Enjoy your weekend.

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