Child Support Handbook (13th Edition)
Child Poverty Action Group
£23 (£6 for individual claimants – direct from CPAG)
STAR RATING: 4/5
The child support system in the UK is a mess – the Child Support Agency appears to lurch from crisis to crisis; some parents complain about not receiving income from former partners while others object to what they perceive as heavy-handed and unfair treatment at the hands of the courts and the CSA, writes Gary Vaux.
So any guide to how the system is supposed to work must be welcome and this handbook, now in its 13th year of publication, tries its best to help advisers make sense of what is a nonsensical scheme.
The maths and the structure of the child support calculation are so mind-numbingly complex that, even armed with this excellent handbook, I have doubts as to whether I would attempt it.
Technically, the guide is almost perfect (I say “almost” because, like all welfare rights guides, the law changes all the time, making parts out of date). It is well-written, fantastically detailed and very accurate. If you only used it to get to grips with how to complain to the CSA about poor service, it would be worthwhile for that alone.
What I’m not sure about is whether it would be regularly used for advice – but I am sure that on the occasions that you do need it, there isn’t a better source of information and advice. It is also available on-line from CPAG at the same price, with legislation and case-law updates.
Gary Vaux is head of money advice, Hertfordshire Council and is Community Care’s welfare rights expert