9 February 2006
Second CSA review in a year is beyond absurd
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today condemned the Government for its continued failure to resolve problems with the Child Support Agency (CSA).
John Hutton MP, the Work and Pensions Secretary is making a statement to the House of Commons on the CSA this afternoon. He is expected to confirm that he has asked Sir David Henshaw, retiring chief executive of Liverpool City Council, to conduct a review. Reports in the Liverpool Echo suggest that Sir David has accepted the job on a part-time basis.
Commenting on the anticipated statement John Barrett said:
“Back in 1998 the Prime Minister promised ‘urgent reform’ of the CSA, last year a new Chief Executive was appointed to conduct a ‘root and branch’ review, and now we’re being told that yet another review is to take place – this time conducted by a part-timer with apparently no experience in the area.
“We can also expect Mr Hutton to announce that private debt collectors will be engaged to help collect the outstanding ?3.3 billion of child maintenance arrears. Frankly, this proposal is little more than an attempt by the Government to spin their way out of what is otherwise a complete shambles.
“In reality, private debt collectors are already used by the CSA and most of the outstanding ?3.3 billion is probably uncollectable because the absent parent has left the country, died or become long term unemployed.
“The situation has now gone beyond the absurd. There are many families in across Edinburgh who have had long running problems with the CSA who will find today’s statement even harder to accept than I do.
“The CSA has lost the trust of the public, and its responsibilities should now be transferred to the Inland Revenue where collection rates are higher and costs are lower.”
• John Hutton MP, the Work and Pensions Secretary is making a statement to the House of Commons on the CSA this afternoon.