Should I pay the CSA or my rent?

October 17, 2012

I work 34.5hpw and by the time I pay rent, council tax, gas, electric, overpayments of tax credits and debts from marriage I do not have enough money left for food. I do receive working tax credit which I have taken into account. CSA now want to take £41.50 per week off my earnings, Rent, council tax and csa are all calculated on my net earnings.

I now have to decide whether to pay csa or my rent. I do not receive any rebates as I earn too much but I have to rely on my family to feed and clothe me just now. I do not know what to do for the best. My children are 12 and I have brought the children up all their days. When the children turned 12 they decided to stay with their dad so its not that I have not supported my children its just now as part of the separation agreement I took on all of the marriage debts which I am legally obliged to pay, I am legally obliged to pay rent, council tax etc and also legally obliged to pay csa but just dont know what way to turn.

I am now at the stage where all the stories you hear about people taking their own life as they dont know what to do I can sympathise with.

CSA are telling me that I have to pay csa as they are more important than rent etc. They are making out to me that I am not willing to support my children even though I would give them my last penny. They are putting that much pressure on me that I am off work sick with stress and dont know what way to turn. What can I do, where can I go to for help in this situation.


  • Carol says:

    Sorry to hear about your situation. As far as the Government are concerned CSA maintenance is a priority debt. They would rather see you homeless as long as you continue paying maintenance, absolutely crazy.

    If you are off work sick and only receiving SSP asked to be re-assessed.

    It might be better for you to also get the invovement of your local MP.

    Are arrears involved in your case? If arrears are also being collected then you can try to have this reduced but ongoing maintenance cannot be reduced unless there is a change in your income. Is there any way your ex would come to a private agreement with you?

  • tom says:

    i think practical advice is being sought here. does anyone have experience of how “departures/variations” work in these circumstances?

  • tom says:

    alternatively, are there any previous posts the initial poster can be referred to that will help?

  • Karen says:

    I have just completed a variation form, nowhere on there was for a change in circumstances. Although I think there was a bit if you are paying historical joint debt off on your own which may result in lower payments of CM, altho I think your ex would have to agree with this. I would put my COC’s into a letter, send it recorded delivery, follow up a few days later with a call to them to make sure they have got it, and what they expect your payments to be while you are on sick. Advise you would like this info in writing. Tell them you want a variation application form. Mine came within 2 days, and I got a courtesy call to say when they received it back (gobsmacked!) I think it is 12 weeks whilst they look into variation, but hopefully sooner. I would make an appointment at CAB, your in a desperate situation if you cant pay your rent which needs sorting out ASAP before you get into arrears. God the CSA make me mad, chin up mate.

  • rach says:

    hi unfortunately i think you may now be better off staying on the sick or going unemployed as that is what the csa is driving people to do just so that they can get by without having the stress of them on their back 🙁

  • Smithy says:

    I can only offer one piece of advice that helped me a lot and that was to write to them and tell them to stop calling you and only write to you. This is the wording I used.

    “I have recently received correspondence from the CSA. I am requesting all contact is completed in writing and I do not wish to receive telephone contact from this point on.”

    It’s not easy but you need to hang on and It will get better.

  • Carol says:

    Would a departure/variation work for nrp? I was under the impression this was for pwc if there ex was self employed or hiding assets. I do not think this would work for ongoing maintenance. Really I do not think there is anyway around reducing ongoing maintenance as it goes by your salary/income. CSA do not care about your other commitments.

  • Carl says:

    Variations form… ? good luck. CSA received mine on 3rd August. They phoned me for a payment of maintenance on 28th September . I enquired about variations form and they told me that they had lost it within the department

    They “kindly” send they would send another. 18th October….. still not arrived. Then another 12 weeks before they will look at it even when they do receive it … assuming that they dont lose it again !!! A joke

  • Karen says:

    Carol, a variation is a big thick booklet style form, and it is for NRP and PWC. A NRP can apply for a variation if for example he was paying alot in travel expenses to see his children, they are given a slight reduction in CM to cover this. I dont think its very generous, and the reduction is probably nominal, but every penny helps I suppose. I have requested a variation and I am a PWC, because my self employed ex has told CSA he only earns 400 per month, but has just gone and bought himself a Range Rover!Hes also failed to mention the 1k a month in CTC & WTC he gets for his unemployed GF and kids. He is supposed to be paying me 5 per week from assesment in August, I am still waiting…. I think by the sounds of it I have been very priveledged to get a courtesy call from CSA then Carl!

  • tom says:

    anyone out there with experience using departures for a case where it’s clear you have insufficient disposable income to meet the current maintenance assessment (ie. after food, utilities, council tax, mortgage, work travel……..BASIC exps)?

  • Carol says:

    I would think in your case as there are debts from the marriage you are paying a variation could be sent in to the CSA to reduce maintenance. Here is a link which might help as it explains about departures.

    CSA will not take into account your current household expenses to reduce maintenance.

  • tom says:

    carol, the csa may say they don’t take your exps into account but the reality is that what you have left is what you have left………….what happens then? Fail to pay your mortgage and make youself homeless? Walk 20 miles to work? What?

  • tom says:

    well if you don’t pay council tax you will get about a years breathing space before
    they get round to dealing with you.make it very clear that the money you
    had each month for the council tax has been taken from you by the csa.
    and don’t give an inch and keep telling the council that if they want their
    money they had better contact the csa .while they are figuring out what to
    do get your self abroad and find a country where you get to keep more
    of what you earn.

  • Carol says:

    CSA class maintenance as a priority debt, over mortgage/rent etc. They do not care about other credit commitments you have. They base maintenance on your net income and only allow for tax and national insurance deductions. The only time you can negotiate with CSA is for arrears of maintenance but it is a long hard road to do that.

    If you are in paid employment and cannot afford the maintenance payments you will fall into arrears. The reality then is the CSA will place a Deduction from Earnings Order on your salary which means your employer will take the money and give you what is left.

    Do you have to travel a distance to see your children? If you do you can apply for travel costs but I believe the first £15 is disregarded. Matrimonial debts is something CSA can take into account.

  • tom says:

    carol, i don’t dispute anything you say and appreciate your efforts to assist, however, the issue (which is generic to anyone in this situation) is that if after paying your mortgage, council tax, travel to work, food and utility bills there is not sufficient surplus to pay the assessment what, in a supposed civilised country, can you do about it. who in their right mind would sell their home (in a recession) and move to a bedsit or short-term accommodation?

    can we have contributions for everyone? this forum is of little value if the focus of frustrations is not concentrated on SOLUTIONS rather than complaining about problems of which we are aready aware (ie. whining) which only results in more frustration and also bitterness

  • tom says:

    meant”contributions from everyone………”

  • tomy says:

    As i said before your options are very limited,your going to have
    to help yourself,do not expect any help or understanding from
    anyone at the csa all they want is your cash.Your main aim should
    be getting abroad and starting a new life,once there go about
    separating the uk from all your finances ,this includes your bank
    and job.None of the above should be based in the uk.You could
    after being in a new country change your nationality after 5 years
    or so of being in employment.You could always pop back to the
    uk for holidays to see family,no one at the ports or airport
    is going to be waiting to stop you as you enter or leave the uk
    for any money owed,there are plenty of expat forums around
    you could start there and start to plan your new and better life.
    It would also put you in contact with other people and their
    experiences in starting again in a new country.Most importantly
    it will give you an aiming point and keep you busy and your mind
    off you current situation.

    All the best

  • tom says:

    not one practical response to the initial post. not much of an endorsement for the forum!!

  • Sally says:

    @ Tom… I can see your point but I don’t think there is a definitive answer to the question asked in the original post.

    What i’ve taken from the responses to the post is that other people are offering suggestions. I really don’t think there is an answer because the CSA is a law unto itself and the rules are unfair. She must pay the amount of child maintenance the CSA dictate and make herself homeless…. going by the CSA rules, she has no choice.

    There doesn’t appear to be any real help out there for people in situations like this… the government and the CSA certainly don’t care…. it’s terrible….

  • chall says:

    Quote Darlene; ‘I work 34.5hpw and by the time I pay rent, council tax, gas, electric, overpayments of tax credits and debts from marriage I do not have enough money left for food. I do receive working tax credit which I have taken into account. CSA now want to take £41.50 per week off my earnings…’

    Is the CSA requiring £41.50 pw child support from you, for your children, the main crux of your financial issues OR would you consider your finances are possibly being over stretched as you are having repaying Tax Credits that you have been over paid and also paying off debts from your relationship?

    Perhaps you could attend to the latter and try to achieve lesser regular repayments towards such?

    Re; The debts you have from your relationship.
    Depending on your debts, it may be worth considering an IVA. The link below may assist you.

    I would ignore the poster who has advised you to cease paying your Council Tax. The only outcome you are likely to gain from such action is more debt to deal with.

    chall ~ afairercsaforall

  • tomy says:

    @Chall and o/p

    The most important thing the original poster can do if to minimize all
    her outgoings,from the info she has given the council tax seems to
    be the only thing she can cut back on,If she does not pay her rent then
    she wont need to pay her council tax,as she wont have a home.The
    most important thing she can do is not be homeless,everything else
    comes second to that, (including the csa)

    Forget all this variation rubbish waiting for this and that,sending
    £10 off here and there,the csa are just playing with you and you
    have not got time to waste dealing them it wont get you anywhere.
    I repeat again to the original poster the only way to get the csa out
    of your life and your income is to get yourself abroad,do not
    worry about the so called REMO.


    EU countries can only make non-resident parents pay CSA arrears
    if the money owed was from when both parents lived in the UK.
    See The European Union member states (government, citizens and rights section)

  • chall says:


    The OP has made no input into this thread since they posted their original post.

    Perhaps a good idea to give them a chance to answer the questions asked by myself and others, who are trying to assist.


  • tomy says:

    Maybe the OP has gone abroad then and that’s why they have not made
    another post 😉

  • Chris says:

    I really feel for you and the rent thing … I too am having my income taken at sourc e and now have been told to leave my flat because I am now in arrears .. so looks like i will have to now live in my car … system is barbaric and I am ashamed to be part of this country ..WAKE UP MPs RENT AND ELECTRIC ARE A PRIORITY DEBT … BECAUSE WITHOUT A HOME YOU CANT REALLY GO TO WORK REFRESHED TO EARN MONEY FOR THE KIDS .. PLUS U ARE MORE UN TRACEABLE WITHOUT AN ADDRESS .. COME ON CSA USE YOUR LOGIC .. BETTER TO HAVE AN NRP IN AN ADDRESS AND BE ABLE TO FUNCTION SO THEY CAN WORK TO EARN THAN HOMELESS AND UNTRACEABLE I COULD RUN THE CSA MUCH FAIRER AND GET BETTER RESULTS THAN THIS SHOWER

  • Julie Hedge says:

    My son pays CSA but his ex wife wants her rent paid as well. Is she entitled to both?

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