Weblog archive for February 2004

2nd February 2004

Father's groups making their point

Father's groups continue to show that they think the various systems are unfair, and that they will never cease their attempts to make things better.

12th February 2004

Government says CSA's new computer system may have to be scrapped

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The fundamental problem here is that it still is not working well enough. That is because of design and software failings....

The chief executive [of the CSA] and myself have had EDS in. We have been assured that there is a recovery programme in place and that the system is retrievable - in other words can be made to work properly rather than needing to be scrapped....

When you have been through the sort of experience we and all the clients of the CSA have been through on this, you ask some hard questions about whether it really can be made to work, given that the original commitments that were made were not fulfilled. 

Andrew Smith, Cabinet Minister for Work and Pensions

According to a report in the Telegraph today, Andrew Smith told MPs that trying to make the CSA computer system work was one of the biggest problems he had encountered since taking charge of the Department for Work and Pensions.

He told MPs that if the "recovery programme" was successful, the system would be working properly by the autumn. But when pressed by MPs, he admitted that it might have to be abandoned.

As reported in this Blog, the The Government promised not to let this computer cock-up happen. This Blog will report further news on this when the evidence he gave to the Work and Pensions Select Committee is published.

16th February 2004

Much better on-line calculator for the new-scheme on the CSA site

The new CSA calculator takes account of the number of children maintenance will be paid for, the amount of shared care and the number of children living in the non-resident parents household. It only applies to the new scheme.

A quick check shows agreement with the spreadsheet available at this web site. It looks like a good calculator. (The spreadsheet here has a few extra features, but these won't matter for most people).

17th February 2004

Will access improve?

The court system for dealing with contact disputes has serious faults. It tends to entrench parental attitudes rather than encouraging them to change. It is ill-adapted to deal with the difficult human dilemmas involved, notably when it comes to the enforcement of its orders. 

Lord Justice Wall, appeal court judge

The project could potentially have a huge impact. With sound management, it has every chance of success. 

Oliver Cyriax, of New Approaches to Contact

It's very important to take parents who are in conflict out of an adversarial system, so you can get speedier resolution and more focus on the needs of children, and a resolution which will involve both parents spending plenty of time with the children. 

Jack O'Sullivan, of Fathers Direct

According to an article in the Guardian:

"Parents who separate will be expected to agree parenting plans that give generous time with the children for both mother and father, under government proposals to cut the number of bitter and protracted court battles over child contact.. The "early intervention" project, to be piloted this year, aims to bring parents together from the point of separation and help them to reach agreement".

"The move, a joint initiative of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and the Department for Education and Skills, follows a growing acceptance by judges and ministers that the current system for resolving contact disputes is failing children and parents".

Perhaps the message is getting through. But there will still be entrenched opposition, from those who believe "mother cares, father pays" is a better method.

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