Trying to secure child maintenance from my ex husbands

June 29, 2012

It is with great regret that I am finding it necessary to have to write to you regarding the incompetence of the CSA and the way I have been treated during my fifteen year battle in trying to obtain and secure child maintenance from my former husbands.

I am a single mother currently on benefits with four children living below the poverty line with debts being owed to me in excess of £32,000 in child maintenance arrears.

I have two children with David Kelman Young, my first husband. The last payment I received was on the 5th October 1998 for £38.00. In May 2002 I requested MP Bill Wiggin to represent me in regards to the CSA and he duly did so. On the 26th June 2002 I received a copy of the Midland Business Unit Managers report into investigations of my case which concludes an attachment of earnings order being placed on Mr Young and payments would resume by the end of July 2002. I never received payment. Mr Young left his place of employment and I was told the CSA could do nothing. I have spent several years and numerous correspondences to the CSA to try and secure maintenance payments but to no avail.

In July 1999 I married Nicholas Scott Franzen and had two more children. Unfortunately the marriage broke down and the CSA were initially involved with collecting maintenance payment. Mr Franzen felt he was being unfairly treated by the CSA so I cancelled their assistance and a private maintenance agreement was set up between us.

Due to Child Protection issues concerning Lauren and Thomas when visiting their father’s house, contact was stopped in February 2011 to ensure their personal safety. Due to my actions payment from Mr Franzen were reduced to £5.00 per week as he was apparently unemployed. I requested the CSA be involved again and asked for an assessment to be done as I was aware that actually Mr Franzen owned his own business and should be paying more than £5.00 per week.I was aware this was being done. Over the coming months I telephoned the CSA requesting updates, but each time I telephoned I was told different things and that an assessment had not been done.

In September 2011, I lodged a complaint with the CSA about issues I had with both cases involving Mr David Young and Mr Nicholas Franzen and non-payment of maintenance and the arrears which have accumulated. I was told it was being looked into.

In November 2011 I further complained via email about concerns regarding my initial complaint and requested the amount of arrears owed to myself be sent in writing on the 24th January 2012. I received a letter from Vanian Foley, Complaints Officer, Resolution Team Three saying that “he was sorry to learn that I continued to be dissatisfied with the Agency’s handling of my case and the failure to secure regular payments of maintenance from both Mr David Young and Mr Nicholas Franzen.” He also stated that account audits had been completed and the figures had been sent to the Legal Enforcement team in Dudley. My complaint was then closed. I had no response about my previous request for the amount of arrears that were owed to me to be sent in writing.

I telephoned Mr Foley and on the 8th March 2012 received a letter from him containing enforceable arrears amounts; David Young £21,656.13 and Nicholas Franzen £3,645.10. I could not understand where he had got these figures from as from a previous telephone conversation I have had with the CSA on the 18th of December 2011 I was informed that David Young owed £25,876.58 and Nicholas Franzen owed £9,199.80.

I was allocated a case worker within the Legal Enforcement team and they informed me legal action was being taken against Mr Young to reclaim maintenance arrears in the form of a liability order. This was issued on the 6th of March 2012 where the debt of £25,000.98 was legally recognised.

On the 9th of March 2012 I received a letter from Mick Hancock, Centre Manager explaining they were taking legal action to recover the money owed by Nicholas Franzen for Lauren and Thomas Franzen thus being £7,646.67 and that I would be allocated a case worker and also requested for more information about him.

Confused with being given numerous different figures of amount of arrears owed, I again telephoned the CSA Legal Enforcement (which I have been doing every week or so for the past three months). I was told the clerical team in Bolton had done the assessments and they could not explain how they had come to these figures. I was told they had received the evidence I had sent concerning Nicholas Franzen’s business and that it was being passed onto Criminal Investigations. Meanwhile court action was being taken in a form of a liability order on the 1st May 2012 and that David Young’s debt of £25,000.98 had been sent to the bailiffs on the 27th March 2012.

The last correspondence I had was on the 3rd May 2012 when I was told that Mr Franzen’s case had not been passed on to Criminal Investigations and they could not tell me whether or not a liability order had been granted on the outstanding debt. I had also previously been told that the bailiffs visited David Young and he apparently no longer lives at the address they have been given. David Young is known to the CSA as a “job jumper”. I informed the Legal Enforcement team of this. They have not seemed to have taken this on board and again he has dodged the system.

I sent a letter to the MP of my constituency, Mr Bill Wiggan, outlying the issues I have been experiencing with the CSA and he has looked into it promptly and efficiently. I am also happy to report that due to a telephone conversation I had with Christine Meynell, Complaint Review Manager, I received a one hundred pound consolatory payment, along with correspondence from her, stating that the complaints review team could do no more, as my cases were where they were supposed to be, at legal enforcement.

The bailiffs have since visited the home address of David Young on the 23rd April, 2012, to be told that he no longer resides at this property. The bailiffs are unable to retrieve the £25, 000.98 in arrears due to the fact that they cannot find him. My Legal enforcement case worker, Kiran Klare, is requesting it be sent back to her at the beginning of July as the bailiffs 60 days allotted time frame is up.

I informed legal enforcement that David Young had an army pension. I spoke to Kiran today (25th June 2012), for an update on my case and to retrieve some of the outstanding arrears through an attachment of earnings on his pension. She informed me that it was now being investigated by the clerical team at Bolton. I rang Bolton office to find out what was happening from them and their response was that they knew nothing about it. I then telephoned the complaints review team who emailed Kiran Klare to telephone me with an explanation. This she promptly did and I was told that the request to Bolton to look at an attachment of earnings onto Mr. Young’s army pension had been sent twice; the first time being the 24th April 2012.

She also said that she was going to be looking at it via the complaints route though Legal Enforcement as to stop me from having to put in another complaint for the third time. She asked me to allow another 8 weeks for them to get back to me with a response. I am appalled that this has gone back to Bolton as they are the reason I have had so much grief over the past 15 years.

On speaking to a Karen Foster, from the complaints team, today, she informed me that if my previous complaint had not been closed (I was aware that the complaint had been investigated, but not closed) then they could have dealt with collecting arrears from his army pension through the MOD themselves. When making the complaint before, I had not been informed of this, if I had have been, I would have told them to do so. As it was, I was led to believe that it was only Legal enforcement and offices at Bolton that could deal with this matter.

In regards to the case with Nicholas Franzen, I spoke to Louise Collier, the legal enforcement officer for this case, today. I was told that the bailiffs were due to visit to collect the arrears of maintenance owed. Meanwhile, an investigator called Aver Roberts was looking into Mr. Franzen’s business affairs and once the investigation into his business was complete then all the information compiled was to be returned back to Bolton for them to re-assess him. As I mentioned in my original email I have requested on 4 separate occasions over the past year that an assessment of earnings be completed on Mr. Franzen’s true income and his business, Franchill. Even after informing the Bolton office of his company, they “assessed” him as being “unemployed” and he was ordered to pay £5 a week and £7000 + in arrears.

As you can appreciate I am extremely concerned with both cases having to go back to Bolton due to their incompetence over the past 15 years and quite frankly I am disgusted, appalled and tremendously upset that I am having to wait, yet again, for Bolton to get their act together. I am certainly not going to wait another 15 years for the money that is owed to me to finally be in my hands.

David Cameron stated on the 19th June 2011 in the Sunday Telegraph, and I quote, “It’s high time runaway dads were stigmatised and the full force of shame was heaped upon them. They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale. They need the message rammed home to them, from every part of our culture, that leaving single mothers who do a heroic job against all odds to fend for themselves simply isn’t acceptable.”

As I have said before, I am a single parent with 4 children and have fought for the right to my money for years. My oven has broken, I cannot feed my children hot, cooked meals, if it was not for the fact that my children are in receipt of free school meals they would not got a cooked meal, I am not looking forward to the summer holidays as I cannot afford a new cooker. I am in debt with TV Licence and with Welsh Water for my water rates which is being taken out of my benefit. My second daughter is due to go to secondary school in September and I am unable to afford her school uniform and all necessary attire for sport.

Why is it that my children and I have to suffer and struggle through life, whilst their fathers are getting away with not paying and living the high life and leaving me being owed in the excess of £32,000+, not to mention the ongoing investigation into more incurred arrears and regular weekly maintenance that should be paid by Mr. Franzen weekly?

The CSA “priorities,” listed in the delivery plan for 2011/2012, written by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in July 2011, are as follows: To keep delivering performance objectives and to continue to improve client service and operational efficiency within the constraints of current IT systems and policy. It is a shame that after the last 15 years in dealing with the CSA I have NEVER seen an improvement in client service, and they certainly are not efficient.

As I have told the CSA on several occasions “If I had something and didn’t pay for it I would have been punished, these men have had children and they are not paying why are they not being punished?”

For a Government body, communication should be of the upmost importance in order to conform with the checks and balances of the people. I have seen failings in both communication with myself and with other offices of the CSA and quite frankly it is despicable and I have had enough.