The process of reforming the CSA legislation
Implications of the announcement of commencement
Questions still to be answered
Quick history of the programme to reform the CSA
The stages of the reform to the CSA legislation
Summary of the changes in the reformed system
Related topic - Index: the reformed child support system
Related topic - The political drivers of the reformed scheme
Related topic - The origin of the percentages in the reformed scheme
Commencement dates - 2000 Act - sections, links to the text & dates
Home & weblog
Blog archive & site history
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Implications of the announcement of commencement

What has been announced?

The new child support calculation formula, identified by the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000, will commence for new cases, and for certain existing cases where a new child is involved, on Monday 3rd March 2003. This is nearly a year after a delay was annnounced because of problems with the new computer system it needs.

There is no statement about when existing cases will be transfered to the new scheme, but informed speculation is that this will be about 1 year later, perhaps March 2004.

References:

Announcement in the Commons by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mr Andrew Smith
The CSA and its computer systems - summary
DWP press release
CSA web site announcement
The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 (Commencement No. 12) Order 2003

News articles about the CSA - latest additions

What is the new scheme?

It comprises a large set of changes to the existing child support scheme. Many of these changes are relatively small, but one, the new calculation formula, is quite large. The design of this new scheme started in earnest in 1997, with the new Labour Government.

There are still some questions that I cannot answer:

Questions still to be answered

References:

Child Support Reform - Questions and answers
Child Support Reform - Information briefings
2000 Act - sections, links to the text & dates
Index: the reformed child support system
Summary of the changes in the reformed system
Quick history of the programme to reform the CSA
The stages of the reform to the CSA legislation

Why was the new scheme devised?

Because the CSA was demonstrably incapable of administering the existing (previous) scheme, which attempts to take a lot of factors into account and therefore requires a lot of evidence to be collected and analysed.

References:

Summary of the changes in the reformed system
Quick history of the programme to reform the CSA

Why was the previous scheme devised?

All child support systems are part of national systems to control or reduce child poverty while controlling or reducing welfare expenditure. They seek to ensure a supply of money is available for bringing up children, coming from the parents rather than taxpayers.

References:

Objectives of child support across nations & centuries
A bit of history of child support
History of child support in the UK

Will the new scheme work?

Who knows? It is not a scheme suitable for the rest of the 21st Century - in fact, it really tries to correct the previous scheme devised for the 1990s.

This web site identifies an agenda for a better scheme, and publishes some analysis and papers justifying these proposals.

References:

Will the reformed scheme achieve its objectives?
Child Support Agenda for the 21st Century
"Child Support should be for Children" - A proposal for reform

Cost overrun?

On 13th August 2002, I was interviewed by Vanessa Pike on the "Today" programme on BBC Radio 4.

I said that EDS would only be responsible for the extra cost of the computer system during the delay (of nearly a year) if they were "entirely responsible" for the delay. And I said that EDS tended to be careful to conform to contracts, and might be able to show that they were not entirely responsible, with the implication that taxpayers would end up paying for the cost overrun.

A news item (see below) now says "Mr Smith told MPs the government's share of the bill had gone up by about 7% over the term of the contract". David Willetts, the shadow work and pensions secretary, welcomed the announcement "with some relief after years of delay". But he said EDS, which built the new Child Support Agency computer system, had blamed interference by ministers for the delay. "We know the government is going to pay more as a result of this delay - that implies the government accepts some responsibility for what has happened," he said.

It may well prove to be the case that interference and changes caused by ministers, as a result of failure to get the specification and contract for the new computer system right initially, will have cost taxpayers many millions of pounds, and caused distress and hardship to many parents and children affected by the CSA.

References:

News articles about the CSA - latest additions
The CSA and its computer systems - summary

Page last updated: 17 January, 2004 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003