Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ - for
Frequently Asked Questions - questions & answers
Frequently Asked Questions - as posted to the newsgroup
Related article - Newsgroup debate (1998) on the future of the CSA
Home & weblog
Blog archive & site history
Site map & search

Frequently Asked Questions - questions & answers

Warning: the information in this FAQ is compiled in good faith by ordinary users of the newsgroup. This is a self-help group, not a panel of experts. If you need someone to be legally liable for advice then ask a professional who has indemnity insurance!

Last-Updated: 2002-01-11.

Some material in this FAQ have not been checked for accuracy since 28th July 1999, and so may be out of date. Other material has at least been checked, and typically updated, during 2001 or later, and so may be accurate. This is not visible just from the question itself below. You have to click on the link to see what the answer section says.

The answer sections have dates such as "(2001-10-27)" against their title. This uses an international standard format (ISO 8601) for a date: year-month-day. It indicates that this section was at least checked for accuracy, and if necessary was updated, on that date. But remember the warning above - there are still no guarantees! Sometimes the date is in red: (1999-07-28). This means that the answer is copied from the version of the FAQ of 28th July 1999, and hasn't been checked for accuracy. The intention is to check these sections, and if necessary update them, when time permits.

This detailed version is no longer posted to the newsgroup. Instead, the version posted to the newsgroup provides a summary of sources of advice and answers.

Table of Contents

1. Acronyms and special terms used in the newsgroup and this FAQ

2. The CSA

2.1.What is the 'CSA'?
2.2.What does the CSA do?

3. The newsgroup,

3.1.What is this newsgroup?
3.2.Why do we need this newsgroup?
3.3.What topics are discussed by this group?
3.4.Who should use this newsgroup?
3.5.What is not permitted on this newsgroup?
3.6.Will the CSA be involved?
3.7.Does the CSA victimise contributors to this newsgroup?
3.8.How should I post to this newsgroup?
3.9.Should I post anonymously?
3.10.How can I post anonymously?

4. This FAQ

4.1.What is a FAQ?
4.2.Who maintains the FAQ?

5. Hints and tips

5.1.Dealing with the CSA

6. The case starts

6.1.When does the CSA get involved?
6.2.What if the PWC does not cooperate?
6.4.1.Can the CSA assess me if I'm not a UK resident?
6.5.1.Should I take a paternity test?
6.5.2.Will I have to pay before getting paternity test results?
6.5.3.How is the paternity test organised?
6.6.What if the benefit claim was fraudulent?
6.7.What if I can't or don't want to deal with the CSA?

7. Assessments

7.1.How does the CSA decide who is the Non-Resident Parent?
7.2.What if care of the child is shared?
7.3.What are the main steps of the formula?
7.3.1.The maintenance requirement
7.3.2.Exempt income
7.3.3.Net income
7.3.4.Assessable income
7.3.5.Proposed maintenance
7.3.6.Protected income
7.4.What is the Relevant Week?
7.5.What are the benefit rates used in the calculations?
7.5.1.Income Support 7 April 96 to 6 April 97
7.5.2.Income Support 7 April 97 to 6 April 98
7.5.3.Income Support 7 April 98 to 6 April 99
7.5.4.Income Support 12 April 99 to ? April 00
7.5.5.Carer element (baby sitter) rates
7.5.6.Child Benefit 96-7
7.5.7.Child Benefit 96-7
7.5.8.Child Benefit 97-8
7.5.9.Child Benefit 99-00
7.6.How does the agency work out my (employed) income?
7.7.What if my working patterns are changing?
7.8.Are pensions taken as income?
7.9.Is Disability Living Allowance taken as income?
7.10.Is the NRP's partner's income taken into account?
7.11.Is the PWC's partner's income taken into account?
7.12.Can the CSA legitimately demand new partners details?
7.13.Is house insurance allowed?
7.14.Is mortgage protection insurance allowed?
7.15.Are water charges allowed?
7.16.Is Council Tax allowed?
7.17.Are there any restrictions on the size of mortgage?
7.18.Are voluntary extra mortgage payments allowed?
7.19.Court Maintenance Orders - do the CSA take them into account?
7.20.Capital - does the CSA take it into account?
7.21.Working Family Tax Credit - does the CSA take it into account?
7.22.Redundancy payment - does the CSA take it into account?
7.23.What if I reduce my income?
7.24.What is my income if I trade as self-employed?
7.25.Which self-employed accounts do they want?
7.26.What if I've only just become self-employed?
7.27.What if my business partners don't want the CSA to see the accounts?
7.28.What if I trade as a Limited Company?
7.29.What is the legal position of a Limited Company?
7.30.Will the CSA take account of my student loan debt?
7.31.AVCs - does the CSA take them into account
7.32.My children stay with me. Does the CSA take this into account?
7.33.Is the PWC's income taken into account?
7.34.Is there a maximum assessment?
7.35.Is there a maximum %age of income that can be taken?
7.36.What if I'm paying toward my ex-partner's mortgage?
7.37.What if the someone doesn't live in the UK?
7.38.What if the NRP is self-employed and won't provide income details?
7.39.When will the CSA assessment replace my existing court order?

8. Arrears

8.1.Why are arrears so commonplace?
8.2.Does the agency demand all the arrears?

9. Payments

9.1.Who does the NRP pay?
9.2.How does the NRP pay?
9.3.What about Direct Debits?
9.4.When does the NRP pay?
9.5.How can I check that the CSA has paid what it has received?
9.6.What does the PWC get?
9.7.What does the government get?
9.8.What happens if maintenance is more than the PWC's benefits?
9.9.What happens if maintenance is less than the PWC's Income Support?
9.10.What is the Child Maintenance Bonus?



11.1.Periodic (Section 16)
11.1.1.When were periodic reviews suspended?
11.1.2.When is a periodic review done?
11.2.Change of Circumstance (Section 17)
11.2.1.What is the minimum assessment change?
11.2.2.Who can ask for a Change of Circumstances Review?
11.2.3.What is taken into account in a Change of Circumstances Review?
11.3.Second Tier (Section 18)
11.3.1.Who can start a section 18 review?
11.3.2.What must I do to start a section 18 review?
11.3.3.What do they mean, only assessments in force can be appealed?
11.4.Initiated by the CSA (section 19)
11.4.1.What is a section 19 review?
11.4.2.When will the CSA start a section 19 review?


12.1.What are the grounds for departures?
12.2.How high do "Special Expenses" have to be?
12.3.Debts before the parent became an NRP
12.4.What about partners contribution to housing costs?


13.1.How can I get a Secretary of State decision corrected?
13.2.How can I get the CSA to correct my assessment?
13.3.How can I get the CSA to cancel a decision in the interests of justice?
13.4.What can I do if I am not satisfied with the outcome of my appeal to the CSA?
13.5.What can I do if I am not satisfied with the outcome of my appeal to the ITS?
13.6.What can the Secretary of State do to overturn an appeal to the ITS?
13.7.What can I do if I am not satisfied with the outcome of my appeal to the Commissioners?
13.8.How is the CSA represented at a Child Support Commissioner's hearing?


14.1.How long does it take to set up a DEO?
14.2.What notification does the CSA give of varying a DEO?
14.3.Can a company refuse to implement a DEO?
14.4.What powers does the CSA have to enter premises etc.?
14.5.What can I do if a DEO is wrong?
14.6.What can I do if the DEO leaves me in poverty?
14.7.What if my earnings drop after the DEO is set up?
14.8.What can I do if the NRP has paid and the agency won't hand it over?
14.9.What can I do if the NRP is understating their income?


15.1.How can I complain about what the CSA has done?
15.2.What can I do if the Customer Service Manager's response is unsatisfactory?
15.3.What can I do if the Chief Executive's response is unsatisfactory?


16.1.Do Payments to the CSA qualify for tax relief?
16.2.How much tax relief?
16.3.Do I deduct tax relief when paying maintenance?
16.4.Do I have to pay tax on CSA maintenance payments received?
16.5.Can I claim relief on maintenance paid before the assessment date?
16.6.The CSA delayed assessment so I lost tax relief. What can I do?
16.7.I fell into arrears so lost tax relief. What can I do?
16.8.Can I claim tax relief for earlier years?
16.9.Can NRPs get tax relief for shared care?
16.10.Where can I get further information?
16.11.Does the Inland Revenue pass information to the CSA?

17.The End

17.1.When will the CSA end?
17.2.How can we leave the CSA system?

18.Useful contacts and sources of information

18.1.Advice and damage limitation website
18.2.Shared Parenting groups
18.3.APACS (Association for Payment Clearing Services
18.4.2.Radio 4
18.5.Benefits Agency
18.6.British Official Publications Current Awareness Service (BOPCAS)
18.7.Central Office of Information
18.8.Channel 4
18.9.Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
18.10.Child Support Agency (CSA)
18.10.1.Central Adjudication Services
18.10.2.Chief Executive
18.10.3.Child Support Commissioners
18.10.4.Data Protection Unit
18.10.5.Management Information Team
18.10.6.Open Government Contact
18.11.Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB)
18.12.Consumer Credit Counselling Service
18.13.Data Protection Registrar
18.14.Google Groups
18.15.Department of Social Security
18.16.Families Need Fathers
18.17.The Family Support Agency
18.18.Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO)
18.19.Houses of Parliament
18.19.1.Minister for the Cabinet Office
18.19.2.House of Commons Public Information Line
18.19.3.Social Security Committee
18.19.4.Stationery Office
18.19.5.Tony Blair
18.19.6.MPs e-mail addresses
18.20.Independent Case Examiner
18.21.Inland Revenue (ex Contributions Agency)
18.22.Magistrates Courts
18.23.National Association for Child Support Action (NACSA)
18.24.National Audit Office
18.25.Official Documents
18.26.Parliamentary Ombudsman
18.27.Press - getting information from them
18.28.Press - getting information to them
18.29.Sweet and Maxwell
18.30.Talk Radio


19.1.Does the CSA have to believe what I tell them?
19.2.What happens if you lie to the CSA?
19.3.What is a Connell Order?
19.4.Do I need to inform the CSA when my circumstances change?
19.5.Are CSA payments taken into account for Housing Benefit?
19.6.What if the PWC is defrauding the benefits system?
19.7.What can I do if the CSA does not give me the maintenance?
19.8.What is the PWC's bonus scheme?
19.9.What sort of people work at the CSA?
19.10.How can I phone the CSA when the line's always busy?
19.11.Does the CSA owe a duty of care to clients?
19.12.How does the CSA track clients down?
19.13.How does the CSA track clients' partners?
19.14.Should an NRP make voluntary payments before the assessment?
19.15.Where can I find a lawyer to help?
19.15.1.Bob Pape
19.15.2.Durham Legal Services
19.16.I tape telephone conversations with the CSA?
19.17.Can the CSA intercept my e-mails?
19.18.Can the CSA get information from Banks, Pensions providers etc?

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