News articles about the CSA - index and commentary
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I have about 360 TXT files comprising clippings of news articles about
the CSA, dating back to 1994. The pages here identify nearly all of them,
and provide some extracts to give a flavour of what each article is about,
although without attempting to cover all the material in the articles.
Where possible, an Internet link to the article on the news site itself
is provided, and I recommend studying the full article rather than relying
on the extracts provided here.
The normal policy is to identify the news site (typically the web site
of a recognised newspaper), the date, the title, and the author. The quotes
provided are normally clipped directly from the original article, but
typically whole sentences and paragraphs are omitted, often without indicating
where the omission is, but normally without altering the order of presentation.
In some cases people's names are removed, and replaced thus "[X]".
This typically applies where the article records an incident of some severity,
such as a suicide or serious crime. While it may be important for policy
purposes to know that a crime or suicide occurred, it is rarely necessary
for these purposes to know the identities concerned.
This material will continue to be updated. Extra historical articles
will be added as they are found, extra Internet links will be added where
possible, and newly published articles will be added. Each month, new
articles will be added to a separate
page, then merged into the main archive in the following month.
Here is a ZIP file with the
full text of all of the articles, structured by year. (It is about
580 kilobytes, and a "Readme.txt" file within it identifies
the date of the ZIP, so that updated versions can be identified later).
The "flavour" of the articles changes year by year. This is
for various reasons. The history of the CSA obviously changes over time
and needs different approaches. Newer articles can be obtained from the
search engines and archives on many news sites, whereas older articles
have been scraped together in an unsystematic way. And more recent articles
warrant more attention here.
Throughout these pages, articles from local news sources tend to discuss
local people, while articles from national news sources tend to discuss
policies and trends. (There are exceptions).
Two things don't change over time:
- The "spin" put on each new report & statistic by government
officials, saying that the CSA has turned the corner & is getting
- The optimistic claims from government ministers that each next set
of reforms will "solve" the problem.
(It is surely obvious that these will continue, however ill-founded!)
Year by year commentary
1994 articles - full year
Most of these articles are from the
NACSA Book Of The Dead (BOTD). (The
flaws in NACSA's analysis in their Book Of The Dead are described
here). This is one of the few sources of news articles covering this
The novel & unexpected problems caused by the CSA were being linked
to suicides, whether or not they were the root cause.
1995 articles - full year
Many of these articles continue to be from the
NACSA Book Of The Dead (BOTD).
But news of the administrative incompetence of the CSA was also beginning
to become apparent. It was becoming clear that the problem was not simply
that "absent parents" (later to become "non-resident
parents") couldn't cope with the unexpected change to their lives
caused by the legislation, but that the CSA itself was incapable of
doing what it was supposed to do, and was causing mayhem in the process.
1996 articles - full year
By now it was clear that the original policy objectives were fundamentally
misconceived. The legislation simply did not match the reality of 1990s
But some MPs continued to treat this as the fault of defaulting mothers
and fathers. (Mothers who wanted to benefit from small payments from
the fathers, rather than see all the money go to the Treasury. Fathers
who wanted to cater for their first children, then move on). These MPs
continued to act as though stronger enforcement was the answer, rather
than sorting out the underlying policy and societal issues. Whether
or not government actually believed this, (will we ever know?), they
couldn't afford to admit it.
1997 articles - full year
Some suicides were still being reported.
But now there was much more realisation in the press that the CSA was
thoroughly administratively incompetent, and that something needed to
be done. However, there still appeared to be the view that knowing the
facts ought to be sufficient, and better enforcement (applied to both
parents with care and absent parents) was the answer. There was little
discussion about what fundamental corrections and revision to the original
policies was needed to "solve" the issues.
1998 articles - full year
Much of the news was the same.
But a key new feature was the publication of the
CSA Reform Green Paper - an acknowledgement that it wasn't just
a problem with parents, but also that the legislation, indeed government
policy, had been flawed. (The most realistic and promising features
Green Paper didn't carry
over to the CSA Reform White Paper a year later!)
1999 articles - 1st quarter
- 2nd quarter - 3rd
quarter - 4th quarter
Still much of the news was the same. But the reality was starting to
become apparent - the CSA was going to undergo massive reform.
This was the year of the
CSA Reform White Paper, and the collection of evidence and the issuing
report (the 10th Report of 1999) by the Social Security Select Committee.
So in Quarter 3, when all this became apparent, news coverage increased
dramatically. (The White Paper was issued on 1st July, and the Select
Committee collected its evidence on
14th to 16th September).
As should have been expected, news sources treated the proposals in
White Paper as startling new concepts, whereas they were mostly
a repeat (and in some cases a subset) of the proposals in the
Green Paper a year earlier. Newspapers are inclined to treat a government
statement as news, even if exactly the same statement has already been
published as news on a previous occasion! (Even government backbenchers
are getting irritated at the way government announces things at least
It was becoming clear that the new computer system for the CSA was
going to be a key sucess factor, and indeed a delaying factor.
2000 articles - 1st half
- 2nd half
A relatively new theme here was DNA testing - not necessarily for "official"
purposes, but also so that possible-fathers could find out one way or
the other. DNA tests have an appalling, devastating characteristic -
truth! There is no
place to hide. Some MPs would like DNA tests to be strongly controlled,
and even to ban "private" tests, because the results can raise
issues that some MPs would rather not have to legislate for. (But, of
course, they are becoming so easy and cheap that this is not an option).
Another theme appearing here was that of children of separated parents
taking a parent to court to pay for further education once the CSA no
longer has jurisdiction. It is therefore seen that the CSA is at most
only a component in a much more complicated system.
2001 articles - 1st half
- 2nd half
Existing themes continue:
- The CSA remains the most administratively incompetent government
agency in living memory.
- Children continue to exercise (amd possibly expand) their rights
against their parents.
- The new legislation starts to come into force, with harsher punishments
and greater jurisdiction for the CSA.
- The Government claims that the continuing problems with the child
support system will be solved by the reformed scheme.
2002 articles - 1st half
- 2nd half
The main news is the delay in the implementation of the computer system
needed for the reformed scheme, which therefore delays the introduction
of the reforms.
2003 articles - full year
Initially the main news this year was the announcement that the new
scheme would start on 3rd March. Indeed, it did so. Later, the news
was of the poor performance of the CSA in various reports, and of the
continuing problems with the new computer system.
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