Child Support Agency’s administration slammed by independent reviewer

The Independent Case Examiner has expressed “deep concern” with problems within the Child Support Agency, in a report published yesterday.

The report describes instances where “one hand does not know what the other hand is doing” and says that while it is “deeply concerned” by the Agency’s IT problems, of equal concern is the CSA’s basic administration.

“Too often the experiences of parents who complain to me are of an Agency in which one hand does not know what the other is doing, and there is no discernable effort to place the needs of their child first,” the report said.

“Until the Agency establishes sound fundamental administration processes, poor customer service will continue to be an underlying theme of complaints referred to me,” it added.

The ICE takes referrals from parents about complaints regarding the CSA.

In 2005-6 there were 2,759 complaints, with 41 per cent of concerns being focussed on delays.

The report added: “The Agency has no holistic solution to the myriad of IT problems it continues to experience, particularly in those cases where information is pulled across from the old system into the new.

“In cases I see, this has never worked effectively and consequently the number of cases that have to be handled clerically is growing ever larger.

“This can cause significant further problems for Agency customers.”

The report highlights however how the secretary of state announced a policy and agency redesign to be carried out this year alongside further funding to enable the CSA to make further improvements.

“It seems that this important area of public services is at last getting the attention that it deserves and this is good news for the parents and children that this Agency serves,” it concluded.


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