4th May 2004
CSA reduces payments for its computer system by £1 million per month
“ this level of unscheduled change requests is extraordinarily high even taking into account the system’s size and scale.... this reflected badly on the planning for the project. ”
Geoff Reiss, chairman of the Association for Project Management’s Programme Management Specific Interest Group
According to Computer Weekly, the CSA is withholding about the maximum it is permitted to under the contract because the system doesn't work properly.
But a disclosure this week that the department has sought at least 2,500 changes to the design of systems that support the new "simplified" working processes of the CSA has undermined the agency’s tough stance against EDS.
The delay and the withholding of money has meant that the agency has only paid EDS about £50m for IT services, even though it is four years into the 10-year £467m contract.
The withholding of 15% to 20% of payments was "a remedy for deficient service", the spokesman said. However, he said the issues around the withholding of money were confidential and discussions with EDS were ongoing.
EDS declined to comment.
5th May 2004
A survey suggests a child costs £134,000 up to the age of 18
“ Children are now dependent on the family longer and they live at home longer. The financial burden is large and increases if children go to university or further education. ”
Jo Ledsham, a Woolworths spokesperson
This survey was commissioned by Woolworths.
"Whoever said the best things in life are free has never brought up children. New research shows that raising a child costs considerably more than the price of the average house. From birth to university, parents spend about £164,000 feeding, clothing and educating a child, compared with the £146,000 cost of a home in Britain."
Summary from the survey
- Telegraph, Sarah Womack, "£164,000 - that's the cost of bringing up a child"
- Times, Robin Young, "Raising a child makes cost of house-buying look cheap"
- Guardian, James Sturcke, "£164,000 cost of bringing up children"
- Sun, OLIVER HARVEY, "£164k to raise a child"
6th May 2004
Latest edition of Open Door
The latest edition of Open Door, the magazine for stakeholders, advisers and employers is available on the CSA website. (This is late news!)
7th May 2004
Chief Information Officer appointed for Department for Work & Pensions
“ In joining the Department Joe takes on an exciting and challenging change agenda. We are delivering a major modernisation programme and information technology is crucial to its success. His role will be at the forefront of this world class change programme that will help us deliver a better service to our customers. Joe will bring a wealth of experience in the delivery of major IT and business change programmes. ”
Richard Mottram, DWP Permanent Secretary
“ I am very excited to be joining the Department which has such a progressive change programme. I am looking forward to getting started and to working with the team to deliver success. ”
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced the appointment of Joe Harley as Programme and Systems Delivery (PSD) Group Director and Chief Information Officer. He is currently Global Chief Information Officer for ICI Paints and will take up his post by July 2004.
The appointment follows an open competition. As for other competitions for posts at this level, the appointment has been approved by the Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Harley's remit includes improving IT delivery within the DWP, which has suffered from ongoing IT system problems at the Child Support Agency.
Good luck, Joe!
12th May 2004
Transsexual hopes for baby
“ ... abhorrent .... ”
“ Trying to explain this riddle to a young child who is bound to ask, 'Who am I and where do I come from?' is a recipe for confusion. ”
Former Liberal Democrat MP Lord Alton
Hm! A male-to-female transsexual who saved sperm before the operation hopes to have a child with her lesbian partner. This is somewhat different from the "Man Not Included" case, where a child would never know both biological parents. In fact, it is hard to see why family campaigners have reacted as they have.
Without wishing it to happen, it is interesting to speculate on what would happen in family courts, and with the CSA, if they separated and child support became an issue.
13th May 2004
Some updates to this website
The combined assessment calculator for the old & news has schemes has been updated with recent benefit rates.
The lists of the legislation have been updated with more recent Statutory Instruments.
Weblog summaries are now up to date up to May.
15th May 2004
Spider-Man cleared after police tactics are revealed
“ Climber does not like road closures so should be used as bargaining tool against you and your cause.... My decision ... leave the roads closed. ”
Superintendent Tom Henley, handwritten log
“ Tower Bridge ... could be reopened if required, but ... its continued closure could help in negotiations. ”
Another police record
“ Mr Chick was not in any crisis, not swearing, angry nor mentally ill, and did not want to hurt anyone. ”
Police log on 5th day
This is from an article in today's Times. It speaks for itself.
A BITTER father who dressed up as Spider-Man and scaled a 150ft crane in a six-day protest was cleared yesterday of causing a public nuisance. The protest led to police closing streets and paralysing a huge part of London’s road transport network.
Officers claimed that they feared for his mental state and believed he posed a risk to pedestrians and motorists if he fell or jumped from the crane. But Southwark Crown Court was told that senior officers knew Mr Chick was not mentally disturbed and that it was possible to reopen roads. The case hinged on excerpts from police logs where senior officers clearly stated that the road closures were a “bargaining tool” and any future prosecution against Mr Chick would be “weakened” if routes were opened.
The nine-day trial was told that Mr Chick and his former partner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a daughter during a three-year relationship. But ten months after she was born they separated. He claimed that despite a court order allowing him to visit his daughter for two hours every week, the child’s mother was reluctant to allow him access and eventually refused altogether. Mr Chick insisted that he had exhausted all legal options before embarking on a series of crane-top protests to draw attention to his plight.
The problems are "systematic". Family Courts, mothers, and police all play a part in excluding fathers from their children's lives. This illustrates how important the consultation will be later this year.
21st May 2004
News about male contraceptives
“ I think things have changed, and I'm not sure women get that. This is not a case of men not participating. ”
Elaine Lissner, director of the San Francisco-based Male Contraception Information Project
“ Most men that we run into contact with understand and are committed to that responsibility. ”
Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
There are at least 3 good reasons why men should want good quality contraceptive choices:
- A selfless reason: to share the responsibility of contraception with their partners.
- An ethical reason: to avoid bringing children into the world who would feel deprived of their roots.
- A selfish reason: to avoid the risk of paying child support for the next 16 or 18 years.
Some men seek such contraception. Unfortunately, perhaps too many don't. This is a wake-up call. If money is the only motivation, remember that child support responsibility can last 24 times as long as pregnancy!
28th May 2004
Will a European convention on contact with children after separation make a difference to people's lives?
“ In this increasingly globalised world it is not uncommon for parents to have different nationalities. When such couples separate we need to safeguard the child's interests. To do that we need to have international agreements and co-operation between different judicial systems. But I have an open mind as to whether this convention will make a difference to the welfare of international families that break up. That is why we need the views of the public to consider all views before making a final decision. ”
Family Justice Minister Lord Filkin
This consultation paper seeks views on whether the United Kingdom should sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Contact Concerning Children. The consultation is aimed at those with an interest in cross-border contact issues. Copies of the consultation paper are being sent to:
- Families Need Fathers
- Fathers 4 Justice
- Women’s Aid Federation of England (WAFE)
- Equal Parenting Council
- Grandparents Association
- National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC)
- National Family Mediation
- The Rt Hon Lord Justice Thorpe
- Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA)
- Family Law Bar Association (FLBA)
- Children And Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS)
- Court Service
- Child Abduction Unit (CAU)
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- Law Society
- Scottish Executive Justice Department
- Department of Finance & Personnel Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland Court Service
However, this list is not meant to be exhaustive or exclusive and responses are welcomed from anyone with an interest in or views on the subject covered by this paper.