Dispute with Child Support Agency
October 24, 2011
I have had an ongoing dispute with The Child Support Agency for 7years now and I am dismayed at the way I have been treated and that of the final outcome.
When I was first contacted by an Ann Thomas in 2004, I raised my issue of possible paternity for the child in this case. I was told by her that it was down to me to prove otherwise and that I was now liable for Child Support.
At this time , I was off work with a broken shoulder and was unable to make payments, let alone a DNA test. This continued for almost a year.
I was contacted again in mid to late 2005 regarding some arrears that I had accrued through that year. Again I raised the paternity issues and again they were ignored.
On the 10th January 2006, I sent an email to a Mr Hearn in Plymouth regarding yet another assessment that the Agency had made again I raised the issue of paternity. I received no reply to that either.
In June 2006, I was notified that I had arrears of £465 and these would be taken with regular payments by way of Deduction from Earnings. These payments continued into 2007 when I contacted the Agency again to enquire as to how much of the arrears were left. To my surprise and horror, they had now risen to £1370.63.
I disputed these figures on several occasions but neither my case worker or the Agency would look into or investigate them. Due to the financial implications on my current family, I had no choice but to leave that job in September 2007.
In December 2007, I started a new job so I contacted the Agency to advise them and again asked my case worker to look into these supposed arrears. My Child Support payments commenced again in early 2008, again by way of Deduction from Earnings. The weekly payments still included these supposed arrears.
This again put a huge financial strain on myself and current family so in May 2008, I decided I would be better of on benefits and left that job.
In January 2009, I received a letter threatening me with legal action so I spoke to a Neil Tucker about my concerns and issues regarding paternity and the arrears . His mere attitude was ` If that`s what it says you owe, then that`s what you owe ` and if I did not pay them I would end up in prison and he refused point blank to look into it.
I advised the CSA of my current employment situation and in September 2009, received a Deduction of Earnings Order to pay £342 per month of which £228 was off the supposed arrears. I spoke to a Simon in Team 13 in Stockport and again his attitude , I found to be unprofessional and unacceptable.
I then at my own expense, sort legal advise and was advised to appeal the Order. Which I did. That appeal cost me £80 and the first hearing was heard on 16th December 2009 at my local Family Court. The paternity and arrears issues were raised at this hearing and the Court directed that I had to receive a one to one hearing from somebody from The Agency to listen and investigate my issues and was adjourned until 24th February 2010.
That visit obviously never happened and upon returning to court in February, the hearing went against me and the Order was to stand. Due to these payments, I had to move out of my family home as we could not afford for me to live here as my current wife was unemployed at that stage and we risked losing our home. This put a huge strain on my family and almost cost me my marriage.
I finally received a visit from a Julie Smith around 21st March2010 and she did agree that there was definite discrepancies and promised me that she would look into them. Apart from returning my wages slips, I never heard from her again.
I have had at least 6 different case workers at 5 different offices after being pushed from one to another. It felt as though, when 1 office refused to deal with my issues, they would fob me off to another and I`d have to explain my issues all over again. I have found these case workers to be very unhelpful, at times, very incompetent, rude and totally oblivious to what I have been saying for 7 years.
Finally in April 2010 Lianne Phelps in Bolton , listened to what I was saying and actioned my request for a DNA test. After not receiving the sample kit in the time that I was advised of, I telephoned her again and received the DNA kit in early August. The DNA test came back negative and I cannot be the biological father.
Had somebody listened to me in 2004, I would not have had to endure the nightmare that I have suffered since.
I was contacted by David Lewis of the Complaints Department on 28th August, who informed me that my case would now be closed back to 2004 and that I would receive a full refund of any payments that I had made to the Agency from 2004 to date.this would take 5 to 6 weeks. He asked me to send him a letter of complaint against the Agency regarding my issues over the last 7 years. I did that and faxed it to him on 30th August. I have spoken to David several times and I can only commend him for his very helpful attitude. I spoke to him in October 2010 for an update on my refund, only to be told that ` legislation ` had changed about 6 months previous and that I was only entitled to a refund for payments made after the DNA test.
He told me to write to Janis Crook with my complaint and ask for a Subject Access Report. I did that and in early January 2011 I received the report which cost me £10.
Later that month I received a phone call from somebody in the Complaints Office stating that my case was closed and there was nothing left that i could do.
Undeterrred I sought further Legal advice and was told to contact the Central Appeals Unit.
I did that and was told that I had a very good case to appeal .
They did all the necessary paperwork for me and sent it off to a Tribunal.
The Tribunal then wrote to me to say that they did not have jurisdiction over my case as I wasn`t disputing that my case was closed but was disputing the fact that the CSA said that I had no right to be reimbursed.
a little bemused, I rang the Central Appeals Unit and actually spoke to the gentleman who underwrote my appeal for me. He said he knew that the Tribunal would have no jurisdiction over my case as my complaint was with Accounts.I asked why he had referred my appeal knowing this, he simply said he didn`t know and if he was me, he would contact my local MP.
The CSA expect to push me from pillar to post, cause endless grief to myself and my current family and when they are proved wrong, expect me to just lay down and go away.
Well that is not going to happen.
Do you have any advice for my next move please and can I pursue the Mother for maintenance that I paid to her for the 6 years leading to the CSA becoming involved ?