News articles about the CSA
News articles about the CSA - index and commentary
1994 articles - full year
1995 articles - full year
1996 articles - full year
1997 articles - full year
1998 articles - full year
1999 articles - 1st quarter - 2nd quarter - 3rd quarter - 4th quarter
2000 articles - 1st half - 2nd half
2001 articles - 1st half - 2nd half
2002 articles - 1st half - 2nd half
2003 articles - full year
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News articles about the CSA - index and commentary

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The material

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).

Summary

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:

  1. The "spin" put on each new report & statistic by government officials, saying that the CSA has turned the corner & is getting better.
  2. 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 period.

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 family life.

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 of the 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 of a 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 the 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 3 times!)

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