CSA incompetence has cost me dear

October 18, 2011

I have been paying maintenance through this bunch of clowns via a court order through my wages for just over 7 years. My daughter is 18 now but as she is still in full time education i still have 1 more year to suffer these fools. My story starts from the day i had my first dealings with the agency in the summer of 2003. I cooperated fully with everything the agency asked of me from day 1. After collating all they required to begin a payment summary which should only have taken a matter of weeks, how long would anyone think it took before they finally got round to actually taking the money? 3 months? 6 months? 9 months? No! 12 months would be the correct answer.

Due to their sitting on my info for a year i got hit for an arrears bill in excess of £3000. This to be paid back on top of what i had been originally assessed for coming to an extra £86 every 4 weeks. I protested at the time that it was their fault and not mine that arrears happened in the first place. Plus i had only 2 months before paid to my ex wife a lump sum for my child in her name to the tune of over £7k. I proved this fact to them via solicitors letters. The only response i got back was, and i quote ” this was before we get involved so it doesnt count”.

To clear off the arrears was going to take 3 years, so by september 2007 they should have automatically reassessed me. Did they? Did they hell! They carried on taking it regardless. At the time i must admit i naively thought they must know what they are doing so kept on making the payments. Until i spoke to a work colleague of mine in circumstances pretty much the same as my own around 5 months ago. When he told me what he was aplying compared to what i am being hit for, i decided to go on the agencys ready reckoner calculator. Lo and behold. It appears most certain that over the last 4 years i have OVER paid to the tune of what is now ( oct 2011 ) £4.5k too much. So i got in touch with the agency via email in june of this year ( 2011 ) Got the standard automated response stating that my enquiry would be looked into within 7 to 10 working days. Heard nothing! So i emailed them again. This time a few days later i get a phone call from a case worker at the agency saying that yes, i am right but my figures are more than what they make it to be. They claimed i started making payments a year later than the original letter that i had been sent when the payments began. Told verbally it woukld all be sorted within 7 to 10 days. Then nothing. By this time my july pay day had arrived. Arrears still being taken.

Now it was time to step up the proceedings. So in addition to yet another email that of course never got responded to. I rang them, only to be told that they have upto 12 weeks in which to appoint a case officer and deal with this matter. 12 weeks pass as do 3 pay days. Arrears still being taken. So i email and ring them again. I ask for a face to face, but they dont do face to face.I ask if a case officer has been appointed. It turns out someone had been appointed a month earlier. Did this person have the courtesy to write or ring me to let me know who she was or any case progress? No, dont be silly! Only after i called them whern the 12 weeks was up was i told and even then I was only allowed to have her christian name and an extension number which i have to go through main switchboard ( An 0845 premium number no less ). And as luck would have it she wasnt in on the day i rang so would i call again. I of course said no and demanded to be put in touch with the complaints department. They rang me to assure me that a new case officer would make themselves known to me within 2 working days. the number they use to call me is what they call a dummy number. You cant ring them back on the same number. All you get is a constant engaged tone. So have i received any call since? No! They wont respond to my emails. They keep fobbing me off with timescales to obviously suit themselves, yet the arrears are still being taken and the status quo has not altered one iota in the last 4 months. My daughte is now 18 and i still have yet another year in which to have to tolerate these idiots.

Just to put the icing on the cake, i made an information request for all information they hold about me to be sent to me. At a cost to me of £10 they did this. On 1 of the pages i received was the original letter from my ex wifes solicitor to my ex stating how much i would be apying in respect oof a lump sum for my daughter. The CSA chose to delete this information on the grounds that i didnt need to know, even though it was me that made the payment. On another page is the name and date of birth of a son to my ex wife who has been given my surname yet bears no relation to me in any way shape or form.

How can any absent father who is paying his way get any fair treatment from these people when they wont give written responses to emails. They wont do 1 to 1 to deal rationally with any grievance. They give you timescales in which they will deal with you, then dont adhere to them. And when you do finally think you might be getting somewhere, they wont tell you who you are dealing with even when someone has been appointed or how they can be contacted unless you ring them back yet again at periodic intervals. Even then, all you get is a 1st name and an extension number and you have to hope that after going through all the automated rigmarole of the switchboard, the person you need to speak to is actually there. Then when you ask for information they hold about you. They delete information you are fully privvy to but allow information you shouldnt even have in your files to be sent unchecked! You couldnt make this up. My fight is still ongoing. I can see me having to go to court to get some kind of satifaction. The arrears they owe me at present if i am correct works out at least £1000 more than what they could continue to charge me for the remaining year i still have to deal with them. I could cease apymets tomorrow with a court order and they would still owe me money. From my bitter persoanl experience it feels like im trying to talk to MI5 rather than the CSA.


  • Bob says:

    so tell me… why arent you putting in a claim against the csa?

  • John says:

    Go to your M.P. and stick the boot into these clowns.

    I have had shit off these incompetent oafs for 11 years. I am expecting more because they are a useless, law unto themselves, bunch of amateurs! the sooner that the executives and staff are thrown onto the dole the better!

    You should write to Cameron, Clegg and Duncan Smith. I have and even if they don’t reply your complaints are on record!

  • Vic says:

    As an ex member of staff at the CSA has openly posted on here they work in absolute chaos with complex and unreliable IT systems that none of the day to day staff at the CSA really understand and are pressured for results based upon internal guidelines that that the poor staff at the CSA are led to believe as law such as the 2 year collection rule. It seems that the destroying of lives and families in the UK has become the sole purview of a government agency set up in haste by Margaret Thatcher in 1993 with such a lack of reason and enforcement that all that became relevant in the subsequent decades of this shameful agency was enforcement to counteract embarassing tabloid headlines that really meant nothing. Subsequent administrations, unwilling to look at the problem seriously, too the easy route and demanded more robust collection techniques in order to be seen to be “something” about the problem. For Parliament after Parliament, Select Committee after Select Committee it was always about collecting arrears as not a single so called representative of the people, a British MP, would dare tackle the idea that the CSA was profoundly unfair to a substantial, if not a majority of law abiding families and second families in the UK. It is better for PWC to receive something than nothing and it is pointless for NRP to be hounded into poverty and banckruptcy. There is actually a better way which is to collect a sensible amount per month from the NRP that reflects the basic needs of his children which is automatically collected as part of the tax system and paid in full to the PWC irrespective of whether or not they are on benefits, in order to alleviate child poverty, and for the NRP arrears only accrue if they are self employed and will not declare an income commensurate with their life style.

  • joanne shier says:

    Join the guys on Facebook, they have all the numbers and info you need to help get your case sorted, also do as john said, involve your mp asap and keep it matter of fact, might also be worth giving Durham legal services a call, they specialise in the csa and might give you good advice. Our case is with complaints as we speak, and to be honest its still a shambles with them. Good luck.

  • Mick says:

    In response to Bob, i have made some progress since i wrote my first post here. I took my complaints to the Csa complaints department. A case officer has been allocated to me. Not within the 2 working days they promosed though. I did have to get on their case somewhat. They have agreed they owe me over £3500 and are in the process of re assessing me as i write. The case officer so far has telephoned me twice now on the actual days he said he would. Sadly thats where the good news ends for the moment.

    Upon being told what i had over paid i offered to let them keep what they had taken, re assess me and if what they owed to me was in excess of what i had left to pay, to refund me the difference and close my case due to me being in credit and fully paid up. Or if what i was owed didnt cover the remaining 11 months i have left to pay, i would pay the difference and be done with them. Both of these offers have been declined on the grounds that the needs of the child have to be taken into consideration. So they expect me to continue paying, albeit it at a reduced rate and what ever is outstanding will be sent to me next year when the case is closed. They are going to ask the PWC if she is willing to close the case down now due to the over payment or take a reductuion for the time remaining. Like she is honestly going to vote for an £85 per week cut in income or a decrease from that amount. Doh! Its big of them to state that that they are willing to cut the percentage of my pay from 15% to 10% of my income for the remaining 11months isnt it! What troubles me is the fact that when i asked them why they couldnt use the cash i had already over paid. The reason i got is because the PWC has already had that cash and spent it! So they expect me to fork out again becuase of their cock up!

    Obviously i can see where this is leading. They keep me paying for another 11 months, close the case then conveniently forget about the money i am owed, or tell me to take it up with my ex now they are no longer involved. They can get stuffed with that idea. Its their mistake and 1 way or another this will be bought to a conclusion before this year ends. even if i have to go to court to get it resolved. What sticks up my nose the most is the fact that The PWC gets child allowance plus tax credit to the tune of £80 a week wether i continue to pay or not. Plus, my child gets E.M.A and works weekends for a national chemist chain! So the benefit amount can easily be doubled with my childs own income. Not going to exactly starve is she! Then there is the lump sum i gave to the PWC for my child. Now thast shes 18 she is entitled to it. My guess is that cash got blown by the PWC years ago. What makes me smile the most is the fact that if my child quit college now. All she would get per week in job seekers is £53.45. Same when she turns 19. How is the PWC going to cope then if my child is still living there???

    In response to John, yes, i too have suffered these clowns for 8 years, and no. I am not taking it lying down any longer. All i am waiting for is the assessment and break down to be sent to me in writing, which they are legally obliged to do. Then i go to a brief or an MP, or both, and kick some ass!

    I agree totally with Vic. a new formula should be worked out according to what it actually costs to maintain a child per week. The most the state will pay is £80 which is the combined amount of child allowance and child tax credit per week for 1 child. No doubt this figure is means tested. No NRP should be forced to pay any higher than what the state deems is sufficent. If i was dead, thats all that the NRP would get in respect of my child for her. The fact that the PWC total household income currently exceeds £500* per week ( none of which is taxable i might add ) * figure also includes the childs own incomes, hence household income. That is the figures i ascertained from the yougov website and doesnt include the maintenence she would be getting from the father of her other younger child on top of what she already gets.

    In response to Joanne Shier, my case too is with complaints as i write. Although i am finally getting closer to some kind of resolution. They do not seem to get my point. I have more thaqn paid what i owe, yet due to their incompetence, they think i should keep paying and wait til next year to get back what i am owed even though i am paid up to then right now! £345 every 4 weeks is equivalent to a second mortgage. I drive a clapped out 14 year old renault for work. My unemplyoed ex PWC drives a 7 year old 04 plate car that she bought in 2006. I wonder where the money came from to buy that??? Hmmm, i wonder. Possibly the lump sum i made out in my daughters name! Having that money back in my coffers would allow me to do things i cant currently do. i.e pay off my credit card ( run up because of what i was over charged that i pay interets on) Do house repairs/renovations that ive had to put off for the last 6 years. Hell, maybe even replace my car for something a little less ancient. I do work full time after all being said and done. It would be nice to have something to show for it. In my opinion i think its high time the PWC felt the squeeze of the current times we live in. Just like every one else has to.

  • John says:

    To Mick ~ I have tried going to the legal theives. They have been warned off involvement in CSA matters, by the courts.

    My M.P. was initially helpful, and with his help, I began to run rings around the CSA with complaint after complaint (all valid). The CSA got the parliamnetary authorities involved, and my M.P. was warned off helping me any more! He refuses any further involvement!

    I have been targeting CMEC and Duncan Smith by writing to them and challenging their authority, not as civil disobedience, but as matters of fact that the CSA and the system are flawed, in that they have NOT given me an opportunity to find the best option for me, by negotiating an agreement with my ex-wife. In other words they have forced me to be part of a flawed statutory scheme, which was not my best option!

    May I suggest that you use this terminology when you deal with the CSA!

  • Mick says:

    To John, that sounds like a good strategy to adopt. sadly for me, the option to actually negotiate with my ex is not an option at all. In the beginning before the CSA became involved we did have an arrangement that worked, for a while. Then my ex started upping her demands and got greedy. She kept using the CSA against me stating that they would charge me even more than she was trying to extort from me. So i called her bluff. I did try telling her that her blackmail demands wouldnt be the case as i was already paying her £20 a week more than what the CSA finally assessed me for. But she remained adamant. If the Csa had started taking the payments from day 1 when they should have without arrears i would have been £25 a week better off. As they faffed around for a year, with arrears i was only £5 a week better off from what i was already giving her but £25 a week better off than what she was demanding i up my payments by.

    She has never forgiven me for this, but i did try to tell her. So in revenge i got cut off into the wilderness from my child for 3 years. Long enough to make the damage permanent sadly despite efforts by me to re establish contact and closeness. Ironically, what i first began to pay her from day 1 was exactly what the Csa would have assessed me for at that time in any case. I will bear in mind your advice once my breakdown and re assessment letter arrives through the post next week. If it comes then that is. Watch this space…..

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