A law unto themselves – help required!

August 28, 2013


My partner has a son who is 20 this year. During the 8 years we have been together, I have watched him struggling to meet the CSA demands for payment, and have often had to make the payments for him because he’s been self employed and struggling to keep the business afloat. I have been completely supporting him and have sent his accounts to the CSA to show that he hasn’t earned a profit and hasn’t paid himself a penny. This didn’t seem to matter to them, but luckily because I had a job, we managed. Two years ago I was made redundant, so have instead been helping to run the business. I’ve managed to improve the profits, but only just enough to keep a roof over our heads and feed us. As you can imagine, we were incredibly relived when in May we received a letter from the CSA saying that we didn’t owe them any more money. We then received a letter from the bank saying that the CSA had cancelled the money order and that was the last we heard from them until last week we received a letter from the bailiffs asking for immediate payment of almost £16,000 to cover our unpaid debt to the CSA!

My partner rang the CSA immediately to ask what this was all about and they said that it was unpaid arrears and that it had been passed to the bailiffs because he had closed his bank account in an attempt not to pay (this is not true, he has had the same bank account for the last 10 years and it is still active now). He tried to reason with them but got nowhere, so I rang them back in tears because we don’t have that sort of money (we’re so skint, we haven’t been able to buy any oil for our boiler for a year and went through last winter without any heating!) after spending half the day on the phone and screaming and crying at them endlessly, they eventually relented and said they would speak to the department that takes the money and find out what happened.

The phone call eventually came back the following day to say that what had happened was the bank had ticked a box to say that the account had been closed and that was the problem. If I could get someone form the bank to ring the CSA and admit that it was the bank’s error, then they would call off the bailiffs. I was fairly dubious that the bank would be willing to deal with this sort of pettiness, but I had no option, so rang the bank and was surprised to find that they were really helpful. They told me that they received a letter from the CSA on 20 May (at the same time we had received our letter) instructing them to cancel the money order and this was why they had stopped taking payments. Feeling vindicated, I rang the CSA back to tell them that it was their error after all and they had to at least call off the bailiffs, even if we were still going to have to negotiate over the mysterious arrears.

The CSA caseworker told me that he would request that the bailiffs were withdrawn, but when I asked whether we were due any compensation for two days of lost earnings (we’re self employed) and being so upset that I was almost suicidal, he laughed at me and said that I would probably be able to claim something off the bank since it was obviously their mistake!
Anyway, I was just relieved that we wouldn’t have bailiffs knocking on our door, that I was prepared to let everything slide and even continue to make the unfair payments, however today, one week after that phone conversation, we get a phone call from the bailiffs demanding the £16,000. I called the CSA back to ask what had happened, since they have promised me that the bailiffs would be called off, and the caseworker said that he put in a request for them to be called off, but the woman in charge decided to send them anyway. Several hours on the phone pleading with them and another days lost earnings, and we’re no further on and the bailiffs are on their way.

I am 35 year old woman with no children. My partner is now 41. We have been waiting for his CSA debt to be paid off before we start a family, as there was no way that we could continue to meet the CSAs demands and provide adequately for a child of our own, as we are properly on the breadline, but time is running out for me and it’s starting to look like I will remain childless. Even if we are allowed to pay the so called arrears that they’ve dreamt up in instalments, I’m still going to be too old to have children by the time it’s paid off!

I’ve tried calling the CAB this afternoon but have been told that I have to wait two weeks for an appointment, which is no help at all when the bailiffs are ringing every 5 minutes!
I’m not sure what our options are now, this isn’t our fault, but they just seem to be able to do what they like. Has anyone else had a similar experience and has any advice on how to handle them? I’m at a complete loss, as they just seem to be a law unto themselves!


  • Kel says:

    Send an appeal straight away and write down EVERYTHING!! Then write a letter to your MP, tell them everything and how it’s made you feel. Speak to the ombudsmen and write a letter of complaint about the advisers who have spoken to you this way. Speak to CAB and even the papers. Talk to as many people who will listen, they have no right to treat you like this. Stand up and fight against them, also ask for compensation for all the phone calls or ask them to ring you back. Try to record any calls you have with them. Never throw any letters from them away. They closed our case, sent out a letter saying it was closed, opened it the next day and charged us £100 on top of the £788 of fabricated arrears they’ve made up, even though the PWC has given the child to my husbands mum and my husbands nil-assessed as he’s a student. We won and everything sorted (fingers crossed). Good luck xx

  • John says:

    kel has given good advice.

    I don’t speak them by phone, I require all in writing as evidence.

    Ask for proof of the alleged arrears. Ask for a full breakdown of your account.

    A solicitor may give you a free consultation, to point you in the right direction, and may represent you for a nominal fee.

    Make a complaint to the Chief executive of the CSA regarding CSA enforcement of a debt that you didn’t know that you had.

    Regarding the bailiffs, ask to see the court order (if they have one). Check to see it’s in date. If it’s not in date, it’s invalid. Don’t let them into your property, they cannot enter by force. If they pressure you at the door, call the police, and make a complaint of harassment.

    Stand up to these thieves and bullies!

  • Louise says:

    Thanks guys, lots of good advice which I’m going to follow up on straight away! I can’t believe that so many other people have been treated in this way, but at least I do feel a bit better knowing that so many of you are out there for moral support!

    Incidentally, a slight twist in the tail of this story…after the CSA refused my tearful request to call off the bailiffs because they believe my partner needs to be punished (not sure what for, just for being a man I think) I spoke to the bailiff and came to an agreement to pay them weekly whilst I’m trying to get the matter resolved because I’m absolutely terrified of them turning up at our house (our land lady would probably evict us if bailiffs came round!) Today we just received a letter from the bank to say that CSA have reinstated the deduction order, so now we’re paying both…and all for a debt that they’ve seemingly invented out of thin air!

    As recommended on this site, I’m writing to them rather than calling them, much as I feel like ringing them and screaming at someone, as I know it won’t get dealt with properly over the phone!

  • Julie says:

    Andrew, I disagree that it turns children against their fathers. I went through CSA to set up fair payment (which was less than ex offered for our son) I just felt it better to have someone impartial determine what was fair so that money didn’t muddy our already tricky relations. And I’ve not stopped him seeing my son either however said son has only met his father once. I’m gutted, I truly hope they build a relationship one day. I say this purely to point out that not all single mums are the bad person, I involved ex in pregnancy, called minutes after emergency delivery, had him visit in hospital when both son and I were recovering.
    Children deserve both parents. And sick of reading parents saying the money goes to the mum, maintenance is to ensure child is taken care of and to provide for their needs. That’s what I use it for anyway.

    Louise, I’m sorry you and your partner are going through this, it should be crimminal. Someone needs to be held accountable for your treatment. I hope all gets sorted

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