2001 articles - 2nd half
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In some cases people's names are removed, and replaced thus "[X]".
|Date & reference
||Extracts (not necessarily contiguous)
support complaints up by a third
The number of complaints accepted for investigation against the
Child Support Agency (CSA) rose by nearly a third last year. The
Independent Case Examiner (ICE), Anne Parker, received 1,488 complaints,
765 of which were accepted for investigation - an increase of 31%.
In her annual report, Mrs Parker also predicted a further massive
leap in grievances from April when the CSA starts to calculate maintenance
payments on net pay rather than a complex formula of up to 108 pieces
The government has indicated the new system will be phased in during
a five-year period.... But the examiner warned that people being
dealt with under the old system might want to be transferred to
its replacement, while others would battle to remain under the old
regime for as long as possible because it favoured their cases.
"The agency is facing real challenges next year," added
Mrs Parker, who leaves her post at the end of this month to head
the National Care Standards Commission.... The ICE has received
funding for an extra 18 case examiners to increase its staff to
|Complaints to the Child Support
Agency increased by 31 per cent to 765 in the last year, Anne Parker,
the CSAs Independent Examiner, said in her annual report. Mrs
Parker said that this was because old files had been reopened for
transfer to a new computer system.
complaints up by a third
|The number of complaints against
the Child Support Agency rose by nearly a third last year. Independent
Case Examiner (ICE) Anne Parker says there will be a further leap
next year when reforms of the system come into play. Her annual report
puts the increase largely down to the fact that the CSA now tells
its 1.2 million clients about the ICE's existence.
"I did foreshadow in my last report that things were going
to get worse rather than better once the reforms come in."
Mrs Parker added: "The agency has already improved its compensation
scheme and many aspects of the way it handles complaints."
Milton Keynes on Sunday
bitter at cash-snatch CSA
|A BLETCHLEY father has claimed that
parents left financially crippled by the Child Support Agency can
end up resenting their own children. Father-of-three X, of Chepstow
Place, earns £1,000 a month as a team leader for SMC Pneumatic
in the city. But despite having to surrender the matrimonial home
to his ex-wife, he is left with just £300 to live on after the
agency has taken its share.
"Not only was I driven out of my home, I was also forced to
pay joint matrimonial debts. For the sake of my children, I signed
the house over to my ex-wife. "Less than a year down the line,
she sold the house, making a substantial profit, but because the
court order dealing with the house was made before April 1993, the
CSA refused to allow this to make any difference to the amount I
was having to pay her.
Mr X now hopes his case will be taken up by his local MP, Dr Phyllis
Starkey. She said: "Mr Forrest's claim is quite a complex one
and one must be wary in dealing with such matters when there is
a great deal of bitterness on both sides. "However, I would
like to point out that the CSA was the brainchild of the previous
Conservative administration and New Labour has now passed legislation
that is much fairer to single fathers. "Unfortunately for the
likes of Mr Forrest, we cannot make this law retrospective."
child maintenance uncollected by agency
|The Child Support Agency is owed
more than £1 billion in child maintenance. A Parliamentary written
answer revealed uncollected child maintenance now stands at more than
£500 million, with about £200 million "possibly"
uncollectable. The new figures exclude a further £500 million
which has already been written off by the agency as "probably"
Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Professor Steve Webb,
who obtained the Commons answers, argued that children were being
let down by the Government. He said: "The continued failure
of the CSA means that hundreds of thousands of children are not
getting the financial support that is theirs by right. It is time
for the Government to admit that the CSA has been a fiasco from
the start and to scrap it."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said the
Government had already legislated "radical reform" of
the child support system. She said the current system will be simplified,
leaving CSA staff spending less time assessing payments and more
time chasing them up.
Support Agency owed £1bn
|The Child Support Agency is owed
more than £1bn in child maintenance, it has emerged. Uncollected
child maintenance by the government agency now stands at more than
£500m. And a further £500m has already been written off
by the agency as "probably" uncollectable.
Professor Webb said children were being let down by the government,
and urged it to scrap the CSA. He said: "The continued failure
of the CSA means that hundreds of thousands of children are not
getting the financial support that is theirs by right.... "It
is time for the government to admit that the CSA has been a fiasco
from the start and to scrap it."
Ministers believe a new simplified "flat rate" calculation
for maintenance, to be introduced for new cases next year, will
solve the problem.
owed £1bn in child maintenance
Anne Perkins, political correspondent
|The child support agency is owed
more than £1bn in maintenance and has written off two-thirds
of it as uncollectable. Figures released in Commons answers to Steve
Webb, Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman, show the agency
is getting worse at collecting money owed even though last month's
annual report suggested its service was improving. But uncollected
child maintenance now stands at more than £500m, while £200m
is considered to be possibly uncollectable, and a further £500m
has been written off.
The figures have prompted calls for the government to scrap the
CSA. Mr Webb said: "The continued failure of the CSA means
that hundreds of thousands of children are not getting the financial
support that is theirs by right. "It is mind boggling that
uncollected maintenance can exceed £500m and that people are
having to wait a year for an initial assessment."
Bristol Evening Post
go on dole to escape CSA', says dad
By Chris Thorne
|A divorced dad from Whitchurch says
he is being bled dry by the Child Support Agency and the only
way out is to quit his job and join the dole queue. Desmond Wright
split from his wife 12 years ago and handed over their £55,000
house to ensure she would be "financially secure". Now the
Child Support Agency are chasing him for payments of £350 a
month. But Mr Wright says he cannot afford to pay this much, and the
CSA is crippling his chances of starting a new life.
He has a four-year-old son with his new partner and they have a
mortgage on their home. Now he is considering quitting his £1,150-a-month
job as a telephone engineer and joining the dole queue. He said:
"If I'm not earning they can't squeeze the £350 out of
me. I don't want to quit my job, I don't want to scrounge off the
state but what option have I got?
A Government spokeswoman said she was unable to talk about individual
cases but added: "In general terms, it doesn't work on the
basis that if you have handed over a property you don't pay anything.
"The payments are for child maintenance, which has to be paid
until the child leaves full-time education. "Normally, part
of this payment would be to help cover the mortgage so the child
has a roof over their head. However, if the property has been handed
over the absent parent should be paying a reduced rate...."
extra for poor in benefit reform
Patrick Wintour, chief political correspondent
Chancellor's 'simpler' system moves to annual assessments.
The Treasury's plans to revolutionise the tax and benefit system
by integrating child support and extending tax credits to all the
working poor will cost more than £1bn on top of the £9bn
This article is included for completeness - but
it is not about child support in the sense of this web site.
Lancashire Evening Post
|CSA needs scrapping
I AM the father of a child born in August, 1998. When the parental
relationship failed I expected the Government to put in place a
mechanism for me to gain access to my child and find a neutral way
to get £40 per week to his mother to support that child, as
I had a £20,000 a year IT job. I was wrong on both counts.
I was harassed out of my job because I refused to live in poverty
when the CSA attempted to take £390 per month from my wage.
Now I only get to see my son on his mother's say-so and I pay £5.97
per week to his upkeep, while you, the taxpayer, fund the rest.
The CSA itself has also with contact by sending a Preston filed
officer to the contact centre on August 28, 1999. This agency has
no credibility with mothers, fathers or the taxpayer. It should
be scrapped entirely and replaced immediately with a Family Support
Agency that is fair to all, with decisions taken once again in family
courts. An Englishman's right to see his children has to be restored
Gary Robinson, Hope Street, Chorley
Agency goes for easy targets.
The CSA has been working on my behalf for 18 months and it is a
waste of taxpayers' money. It won't tell you anything and speaks
to you as if you are in the wrong. It takes it too long to act -
seven months just to arrange a visit. It doesn't have powers to
make an absent parent pay. Unfortunately, it goes for the easy target
- the person who already pays. I though the purpose of the CSA was
to track down those who don't pay, but it hasn't got me a penny
in 18 months, even though it knew where my "ex" lived
and worked. I used to phone to find out how it was doing, but I
don't bother any more. At least I save money on the phone call.
Name and address supplied
in the Family . . . Or Not
In 1997, when X, a 43-year-old building estimator from Surrey,
England, and his wife split up after a 14-year marriage, the couple
decided that X would take custody of their four sons, then aged
eight, 10, 12 and 14. Though the two older boys, B and C, eventually
ended up moving in with their mother, X has spent much of the past
four years learning how to adjust to the role of a single-parent
as he watches D and E grow up under his roof. And X is far from
alone. Over the last two decades the number of children living in
single-parent households has nearly tripled across Europe. The limited
information available shows that in 1983 3.7% of children in the
E.U. lived in single parent households and by 2000 this figure had
increased to 9.7%. That pattern has been most dramatic in the U.K.,
where figures jumped from 6.4% in 1983 to 19.8% by 2000. Most single
parents are women, but X is one of the few though growing
number of single fathers in Europe who have taken on the
major responsibility of raising their children. "I don't care
what anyone says," says X, "it was a shock to start with."
But there have been nagging problems. X is convinced that Britain's
Child Support Agency (CSA), the government body responsible for
collecting and paying child support maintenance, treats single fathers
differently than they do single mothers, particularly in how the
agency calculates the amount a working ex-husband must contribute
to a non-working ex-wife, as opposed to the reverse scenario. And
there are many who share not only X's distrust of the CSA, but also
his sense that society in general fails to recognize and understand
the needs of working fathers. "The whole system is completely
wrong," he complains. "Most bosses don't expect a man
to be looking after his children. But at the end of the day I have
tried my best to get on and make the best of the situation."
test wins man £30,000 child support rebate
|A man is set for a £30,000
rebate from the Child Support Agency after a DNA test proved he did
not have a son.
X, 39, of Priory Court, Cardigan, west Wales, paid up to £100-a-week
maintenance for the child for more than seven years after a fleeting
affair with a woman. Now he is set for a £30,000 CSA refund,
plus interest, after acting on long held doubts about his fatherhood
and paying £200 for a DNA test.
pays back 'wrong' dad
|A man from west Wales is to get
a £30,000 refund from the Child Support Agency after a DNA test
proved he does not have a son.
Thirty-nine-year-old X from Cardigan has paid £100 a week maintenance
- a quarter of his wages - for the last seven years after a brief
affair with a woman. I don't begrudge the child a penny but I hate
being taken for a fool. She swore that he was the child's father and
he paid the maintenance even though he had never met his "son."
However, he said he was being crippled by the payments and also had
a "nagging" doubt that he was not the boy's father. So he
paid £200 for the DNA test which proved there was just a one-in-14
million chance he was the father.
It only the second time in Britain that a man has overturned a
maintenance order after a DNA test proved he could not have been
the father. Meat inspector Mr X, who now has a new girlfriend, is
due to get a refund of the £30,000 plus interest in the next
A spokesman for the Child Support Agency said: "There are
rare circumstances where a person has been paying maintenance and
then finds he is not the child's parent." "In that case
we will stop collecting maintenance and will refund all the money
paid." CSA officials will decide whether the boy's mother will
have to bear the cost of refunding the money.
of crazy errors
By MIKE DARVILL
|As case is the latest in a
string of crazy CSA rulings. Last month The Sun exclusively revealed
how angry B forked out £30,000 for a son he did NOT father.
Bachelor B, 39, of Cardigan, West Wales, paid for SEVEN YEARS until
a DNA test proved he was not the dad of his ex-girlfriends child.
The agency refunded him.
Last December we told how the CSA refunded hotel manager C, 31,
of Fenham, Tyneside, just 20p.
In August last year, dad of two D, 47, Murrow Bank, Cambs, killed
himself after the CSA forced him to hand over more than two-thirds
of his salary to his ex-wife who had dumped him for another man.
Dad E, 29, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, lost his house, job, car and
access to his son because of a CSA clanger. He agreed a cash payout
to his wife when they split but the CSA demanded another
£7,000 from him over six years. The agency later admitted
the case had been badly handled and ordered a rethink.
In July 1999, dad F, 45, was threatened with court action by the
CSA after falling into arrears with his maintenance by 1p. They
later apologised to F, of Thornton Heath, Surrey.
The same month stunned G, 63, of Dundee, was refused access to
her £75 pension because her 40-year-old SON H owed the CSA
sends seduced boy a £55,000 bill
BY SAM LISTER
|A 25-YEAR-OLD man faces a £55,000
maintenance bill for a child he fathered unknowingly when he was 15
after being seduced by a woman twice his age. The plumber, who claims
that he knew nothing of the child until he received a letter from
the CSA, is now liable for child-support payments until his son finishes
full-time education or reaches 19. Mr Walker described his outrage
yesterday at being asked to pay child maintenance when he claims the
woman, who has not been named, broke the law by having sex with a
A spokesman for the CSA said: All children have a right of
support from both parents. If the parent with care applies for support
we are legally bound to assess and collect maintenance.
seduced at 15 faces £55,000 CSA bill
By JOHN SCOTT
|A PLUMBER seduced by a woman when
he was just 15 is facing a £55,000 maintenance bill for a child
he never knew he had. Stunned John Walker, now 25, is being pursued
for cash by the Child Support Agency. He is furious at being asked
to pay when the woman who was twice his age broke the
law by bonking him when he was under age.
John, who works for his dad, fears he will have to pay up to 30
per cent of his take-home wages to support the boy, now aged nine.
And the demands will continue until the lad finishes fulltime education
or reaches 19. The shock move is putting a huge strain on his relationship
with his GIRLFRIEND, with whom he has bought a house. His MUM wants
to see the boy, her grandchild, even though John does not want to
get involved. His DAD was planning to pass his plumbing business
on to him but has put the proposal on hold.
who fathered child at 15 refuses to pay maintenance
A plumber who fathered a child when he was 15 after he slept with
an older woman said yesterday he has no intention of paying maintenance
after receiving a bill from the child support agency.
When the CSA contacted him again last week he was shocked to receive
a demand for £4,000 maintenance and he has calculated that
he will have to pay £55,000 by the time his son has finished
full-time education. The agency has told him that it will take 30%
of his earnings to support the child.
for £55,000 over affair at 15
By Richard Alleyne
|A MAN who as a schoolboy had sex
with an older woman received a bill a decade later for £55,000
maintenance to support a child he never knew he had. John Walker,
25, is being pursued by the Child Support Agency after a fling he
had when he was 15 led to the woman, almost twice his age at the time,
having a child. Mr Walker, a plumber with a steady girlfriend, claims
he had no idea that he was a father until the CSA demand arrived.
At first he believed it was a mistake, but after a DNA test revealed
the child was his, he has been forced to pay up.
He said: "It has turned my world upside down. I was 15 at
the time. I had no thought of contraception. I thought I was too
young to have a baby. "It seems really unfair that I should
pay for something I did as a child. She should have been a responsible
Mr Walker moved to Birmingham and thought nothing more of her until
he was traced by the CSA. Under CSA rules he will also have to pay
for support for the child - up to 30 per cent of his salary - until
the boy, now nine, leaves full time education or turns 19. He said:
"I hope to marry my current girlfriend and have children with
her, but this has thrown everything into doubt."
Stupid at All times
|ASK a lot of men how they lost their
virginity and they go all misty-eyed and talk of an older woman who
taught them everything she knew.
John Walker was no exception, so, when a woman twice his age seduced
him, he felt like the cat that got the cream. Now, ten years later,
hes got the huge bill to go with it. It turns out that his brief
sexual encounter resulted in the birth of a son, now nine years old.
Now the good old caring, sharing, CSA has come after him to stump
up cash until the boy is at least 18.
Its not the childs fault. But its not Johns
either. When he was seduced he was just six years older than his
own son is now. In the eyes of the law he was just a child himself.
No, the fault lies squarely at the door of the woman concerned and
the organisation laughably known as the Child Support Agency. In
reality, it should be renamed the Government Support Agency.
So John Walkers life is now in tatters as he struggles to
comprehend that up to 30 per cent of his already meagre wages could
soon be channelled towards a woman who is a virtual stranger.
I didn't seduce boy
THE mum in the CSA bonkers row last night denied seducing
a schoolboy dad when he was just 15. The woman, now 30 and a mum
of five, said: Ive done nothing to be ashamed of.
She admitted dating John Walker when he was 15, but insisted she
did not sleep with him until his 16th birthday, saying: It
was my present to him. The Sun told yesterday how John, now
25, faces a £55,000 maintenance bill from the Child Support
Agency for a son he never knew he had.
The woman said the affair continued until Johns mother put
a stop to it. She says John secretly saw his son 11 days after the
birth, then moved away. The CSA got involved when she had to name
the dad to claim income support. The boy, now nine, lives in the
Midlands with his mum and her partner. She added: I feel some
sympathy for John, but he is the father of this child and he must
pay his dues. Last night John insisted: Shes talking
MORE than 6,000 Sun readers rang our You the Jury hotline yesterday
to slam the CSA for demanding cash from John. Just 348 callers,
or five per cent, said the CSA was right.
This Is Lancashire
almost drove dad to suicide
|A CHORLEY man has told how he was
driven to the brink of suicide after the Child Support Agency (CSA)
bungled his payments leaving him more than £6,000 in arrears.
[X], 38, of Lakeland Gardens, was told by the CSA in April last
year that he would have to pay £145 a month towards the upkeep
of his three sons. Then in September this year he received a letter
from them saying they had recalculated his payments and he should
have been paying £469.30 since February last year. They said
he was now £6,139.33 in arrears, and to make up the deficit
he would have to pay £492.70 a month.
The error occurred because the CSA should have carried out checks
every 13 weeks - in fact nothing was done from April 2000 to July
this year. [X] dismissed a compensation payment of £125, sent
by the CSA along with a letter of apology, as a slap in the face.
The letter of apology from the CSA, said: "It is clear that
you have not received the level of service that you should have
from our Birkenhead Centre." It added: "Such inconvenience
payments are made by way of an apology for agency maladministration
and whilst not usually large sums of money, they are nevertheless
a tangible recognition that an error or maladministration has occurred."
[X] has now joined the CSA Fellowship in Wigan, a support group
for people in a similar position there, and is hoping to expand
the group into Chorley.
access breaches to be punished by courts
By Rachel Sylvester, Political Reporter
|MOTHERS who refuse to let the father
of their children see their offspring could be punished with community
sentences, under plans being drawn up by the Government. The Lord
Chancellor's Department plans to introduce legal sanctions against
parents with custody of the children who refuse to let the absent
parent to have contact. Ministers are concerned that in the past the
law has been too biased towards parents with care, usually the mother,
and discriminates against absent parents.
Legislation passed this year allows the Child Support Agency to
confiscate the driving licence of a father who refuses to pay maintenance.
However Lady Hollis, minister responsible for the Child Support
Agency, said: "There are no saints or sinners. Children benefit
when they get the maintenance they should and when they have contact
with both parents." She added: "Obviously it's right that,
if we require absent parents to obey the law to pay maintenance,
it's also right that parents with care should also respect court
rulings." Until now, it has been difficult to enforce court
rulings that single mothers should allow the father access to their
Margarette Driscoll reports on the dilemmas of 'involuntary fatherhood'
|He didn't want a child, she's having
one anyway. Is Steve Bing a cad for abandoning the pregnant Liz Hurley
or a victim of her decision?
For all his millions and his beautiful home among the Hollywood stars,
whod want to be Steve Bing? The playboy film producer with a
love of beautiful women he has dated Sharon Stone and Uma Thurman
suddenly finds himself cast as the worlds biggest
His former girlfriend, Liz Hurley, is pregnant, though Bing believed
her to be on the pill. She says the baby is his; he says hes
not so sure. When she told him she was pregnant, she claims he asked
her to have an abortion. Now he says he wants a DNA test.
Does he deserve such opprobrium? Humiliating Hurley in public was
certainly unfeeling and crass, but to be fair Bing did not want
a child and has a very different view to her of their affair. Hurley
says she loved Bing enormously and was faithful. They
were still very much happy together, she says, when
she found out she was pregnant. Yet they had separated for a period
during their affair and he seems to have regarded it as little more
than a fling. It could be a very expensive one. If Hurley pursues
him successfully through the California courts, he could be forced
to hand over up to 28% of his income. Bings family has a £400m
fortune and he is believed to have an income of at least £500,000
A surprisingly large number of men seem to be ambushed by fatherhood.
Even in settled relationships, many leave the decision-making to
the woman. Adrienne Burgess, author of Fatherhood Reclaimed, a study
of modern fathers, says about a third become dads involuntarily.
Only a few were terribly cross about it, she says, but
men are generally more than happy to put the responsibility for
contraception on the women. They dont seem to appreciate that
once they do that, they are giving up control. People say the male
pill would never work because women wouldnt trust men. Well,
men shouldnt trust women, either.
Hurley is rich, beautiful and single. It is easy for somebody in
her position to get pregnant by accident or, aware that time to
have a child is running out, to forget contraception.
Nobody, except her, knows the truth of what happened. But it is
plain that Bing did not want a baby yet now he has to live
with the consequences. His own fault, many might say, for not being
But David Thomas, author of Not Guilty, In Defence of the Modern
Man, disagrees: I dont see why a man should have to
be a father when he doesnt actively want to be. The
law and society rightly make a huge issue of womens consent
to have sex, but no attention is paid to a mans right to consent
in reproduction. In cases where a woman has deceived a man (by lying
about her contraception), there should be some kind of sanction.
At the moment there is no legal redress against somebody who
tricks or leads you into an 18-year financial commitment, and thats
The problem is, there are no half-measures: you cant have
half a baby if one person wants to keep the child and the other
doesnt. The result? Once upon a time a woman left holding
the baby was understood to have been left in the lurch. Now
the man can be left holding a demand from the Child Support Agency.
James Ward from London was stunned when a woman with whom hed
had a one-night stand (and foolishly assumed was on the pill) rang
him up six months later and told him she was pregnant. He was not
sure whether to believe her, but DNA tests proved the baby was his.
The woman pursued him for maintenance, and he asked to visit his
infant daughter. After a second visit the mother began to
get jealous and contact ceased. Ever since, Ward has been
fighting for the right to see his daughter. He has been to court
49 times and travels up to Scotland, where she now lives, four times
a year. For him it has been worth the fight, but many estranged
or involuntary fathers give up. The father only has the right
to pay money, says Ward. Thats not likely to change,
because in this area men are so weak and women so strong.
Paul Jones, a graphic designer from London, has the same struggle
ahead. His former girlfriend, with whom he lived for 18 months,
became pregnant accidentally and, after his initial
shock, he was present at his daughters birth. But three months
later his girlfriend walked out, returning to her native Canada.
He now believes the pregnancy was not a lapse of contraception but
a calculated move, and that she never intended them to be a family.
Once she was pregnant, Id served my purpose. She didnt
want me in her life, he says. He, too, has fought for access
and crosses the Atlantic several times each year. It is expensive
and stressful. The child isnt the mothers property,
but shell treat it as her property, he says.
From letters page of the Daily Mail.
"Just pay up
|A man who has paid out £220,000
to support a child claims he has a right to know if a child is his
or not (Mail). But I know from bitter experience that a man has few
rights in this field, if the mother so chooses.
The Child Support Agency will not insist on DNA profile testing
once a father has accepted paternity, even if, subsequently, further
information comes to light, as it did in my case. Maintenance payments
must carry on regardless, and the CSA refuses to accept any responsibilty
to investigate any doubt in paternity. If the mother refuses to
co-operate, a court can't force her to provide DNA from the child
as that would breach the child's human rights.
So even if there are genuine concerns over paternity, there is
no way in which a man can exercise his right to know if he is, in
fact, the father, and the CSA will still demand the maintenance
payments regardless of any concerns. If a father accepts paternity
at any stage there is very little he can do to enforce his rights
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