Lobbying to improve child support
NACSA is dead - long live NACSA Ltd!
The need for a lobby group
NACSA for the 21st Century?
Suicide and the CSA
Related topic - The political drivers of the reformed scheme
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NACSA for the 21st Century?

The need

The conclusion of the analysis on this web site is that even the reformed child support system looks back to the 20th Century, and something better is needed for the 21st Century (ie. now!)

There is a need for a lobby and activist group that can take well-considered proposals and present them credibly to decision-makers, to help the UK reform its child support beyond the confines of the "politically safe" reformed scheme. This web site can only provide the basis for the proposals - it cannot make them happen. That needs political access and leverage.

NACSA is the only group that is recognised as being specifically about reform of the CSA. Other groups have objectives that touch on child support - NACSA is primarily focussed on child support. The other pages identified by the links at the top of this page show that NACSA won't suceed by continuing to use the methods that it has used in the past. Now, the NACSA Committee has shown clear signs that it recognises this. The Annual General Meeting of NACSA, held on 7th October 2001, revealed significant changes to NACSA operations. There are image changes, and operational changes, as indeed there needs to be.

Proposals for change

The single most important change is that NACSA is focussing more on what it is for, rather than what it opposes. Instead of primarily being opposed to the Child Support Acts (1991 & 1995), it is intending to work for "fairness and equality" after separation. There will be an overlap between these aims, but hopefully "head bashing" will be replaced by a pragmatic attitude towards working with decision-makers to improve matters for those impacted by the child support system. Also, hopefully (although less certain), NACSA will work to help re-reform the system.

NACSA are working to make themselves more credible with decision makers than they have sometimes appeared in the past. They appear to have established the basis for a working channel with Doug Smith, the CSA CEO. NACSA are changing a number of things which will affect their image, but which should also reflect more significant changes than "just" their image. They are rethinking their newsletter, to make it more practical and useful, which hopefully will tone down some of their polemic / aggressive / insulting style of the past.

It is too soon to tell how deep and how effective these changes will be, but the strategy now appears to be sounder. Simply opposing the Child Support Acts tended to lead to the response "well you would say that"! But having a clear view of what they are for (which hopefully will be accepted as sensible by decision makers) provides the opportunity to match government proposals against these and show where they fall short. It is much more telling to say "we should all be trying to achieve X and this proposal won't achieve X" than it is to say "this proposal has these faults". (Any proposal has faults - what matters is whether it will still meet agreed objectives).

(It can be argued that NACSA was already moving in the above direction. However, looking back over years, NACSA has certainly been on a journey - from the time that it was the "Network Against the CSA", through the time when it was for "Child Support Action" but with a logo that focussed on the damage done by the CSA, to the new logo that identifies the "fairness and equality" that it is seeking).

The dangers

NACSA faces dangers within, and dangers without:

Within. Like other lobby / activist / protest groups, NACSA's members and other supporters have a range of view about the best way to proceed.

    1. Some want "direct action" (which can be interpreted in various ways, from "march outside with placards" to things more sinister).
    2. Some want a focus on support for those afflicted, with less interest in achieving strategic objectives.
    3. Some want concentration on strategic objectives, with less diversion towards tactical activities.

There are indications that as NACSA focuses more visibly on "2" & "3" (it was actually already doing these), impatient supporters will be upset that "1" has been dropped. And supporters who are primarily concerned with "2" may not want to help NACSA achieve the much longer term aims of "3", and will act locally to provide support. No group can satisfy all of these views - similar disgareements have surfaced in Families Need Fathers, GreenPeace, every political party, etc. The question is whether the group can gain more supporters than it loses.

Without. There appear to be 2 main dangers here:

    1. NACSA may not be seen as credible despite the changes. Politicians and the media will still remember incidents from the past.
    2. NACSA may simply not be seen as relevant, because the government has shown it can continue with the CSA despite NACSA's lobbying against it.

NACSA will need to stick to its more credible strategy, and preferably get some "quick wins" (for example, using the HRA 98) to show that it is a force to be taken seriously. Time will tell. The biggest risk is not that the strategy is wrong, but that it is late.

Page last updated: 17 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003