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Did the CSA need to change?

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Everyone seems to hate the Child Support Agency don't they?  But let's be honest, it was never going to be popular. 

On paper it sounds like a good idea.  Why not get parents who've left their children to contribute to their up-keep?  It would save billions of pounds of taxpayers' money and hopefully make people a bit more careful about their parental responsibilities. 

The problem is that the absentee parents felt got at - after all there's no more certain way of upsetting people than trying to force them to pay money they don't want to pay out. 

And what's more, many of the parents left looking after the kids feel poorly treated too, complaining about computer errors and unfathomable calculation methods. And all too often the fact that the CSA didn't get the parent of their child to pay what was due.

So the big question is can the CSA's replacement do any better?

It's got an even more unappealing name. It's to be called the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission - sound's like something out of George Orwell doesn't it? But it does seem some of the problems of the CSA have been addressed.

For a start, parents on benefit will no longer be obliged to use the Commission, they'll be able to come to their own agreements if they wish.  Parents will also be able to keep more of the maintenance payments without it affecting their benefits - that's something many parents will be happy about. 

But the big complaint from parents looking after kids on their own, was when the CSA failed to get any money from an absentee parent.  So what will CMEC - as it is to be known - going to do about that?

Well, it has so really tough new powers.  The CSA used to be able to deduct money direct from a parent's pay packet.  CMEC will be able to go even further, it'll be able to deduct cash direct from bank accounts.

Does that sound like an improvement to you or do you think that any agency that tries to get absentee parents to pay for their children is on a hiding to nothing?

Find out more about the CSA and CMEC with the The National Association for Child Support Action in the UK.

Find out more answers on the Child Support Agency website


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