Child Support Agency and fabricated arrears

August 2, 2011

Many people reading this website have emailed in about so called ‘fabricated arrears’ from the CSA, where they’ve received a letter from the Child Support Agency stating how they’ve recalculated their payments, or heard that their income has changed, and have decided that more money should be paid.

Most non resident parents don’t have a problem with supporting their children, but they would like to know that they’re paying the correct amount and, most importantly, that the money they are paying is going to the right person; namely their child. However, the CSA creates a rod for its own back with the way it writes these arrears letters, often refusing to even say where it has found these so called arrears totals.

My employer received one such letter recently, as my salary had increased slightly. The letter from the CSA however demanded that I begin paying more via a DEO than the amount my salary had increased by – the reason for this? Nobody knows.

What is worse is that I, myself, have not received this letter at all. I did receive a letter a few weeks ago saying that they had received word that my salary had changed and that, subsequently, my payments would also change and that if I wished to dispute the changes I should write to them, providing proof. Of course, without any word on what the changes actually were I couldn’t ‘dispute’ anything… and the CSA knew this, they were counting on it.

My employer subsequently received details of what I should pay, with no explanation as to where those deductions had come from, or why. Naturally, as is always the case with the CSA, the amount they demanded be taken from my salary took my income below the ‘protected income’ level they themselves set – it seems their calculations always forget this aspect to their rules, so it was lucky my employer spotted this ‘deliberate mistake’.

I still do not know where the amounts have come from however, and have no real way of ascertaining how they’ve calculated the payments they’re demanding. I use an online accountants for my self assessment, so will be contacting them for advice as well – but it seems as though the CSA deliberately makes its payment calculations unfathomable so that nobody can dispute them, and even refuses to tell the NRP what it has calculated hoping they won’t even notice, let alone be able to work out how the calculations have been made.

We just want a bit of clarity, rather than this cloak and dagger going behind our backs to employers and then making obvious mistakes in the demands sent to them. These are people’s lives we’re talking about, not a letter about a magazine subscription – get the facts and details right, it’s not hard.