What you need to know when dealing with the CSA

February 28, 2011

Most people who first encounter the CSA do so with a wide eyed optimism, ignorant of the horror that they are about to endure. This applies to you whether you are a NRP (non resident parent) being asked for money, or whether you’re a PWC (parent with care) making a claim for the first time.

The CSA is a government run organisation staffed with civil servants, so you would (quite innocently and rightly) assume that you’ll be dealt with fairly, and in a civil manner (if you pardon the pun). This is of course untrue. No matter who you are, no matter what your circumstances, you will find that you cannot trust the CSA.

They will, for example, lie to you about documents received, what was said and what was agreed. They will ‘lose’ information sent to them if it benefits them and they will fail to pass on messages. They will promise to call you back and then fail to do so. In truth, anything that can go wrong, will, and it won’t be an accident.

Why will they do this? Money. They will do all they can to get as much money out of the NRP as they can, and will do all they can to delay passing that money on to the PWC (if at all).

So how can you counteract this?

Firstly, you should keep a diary of contact with the CSA. Whenever you write to them or speak to them on the phone, note down the date (and the start and end time of the calls) and the name of the person you have spoken to. Also make notes about what was said.

When you write to them, send EVERY letter recorded; especially if it contains documents such as payslips or tax details. If you do not, and if it’s in their interest, they will claim they have not received it.

Finally, and this is the most important part, take advice from some of the best home security tips and record all of your phone calls with the CSA. You do NOT need to seek their permission to do this, nor do you even have to tell them you are doing it. You are within your legal right to record any and all phone calls that you make, so do it. This way, you can prove what was said, and by whom, whenever you need to.

You can record phone calls with a Windows Smartphone and the software ‘Audio Notes’. If you do not have a Windows Smartphone, you can use a digital Dictaphone (or even a tape version) and simply hold it up to your normal phone while your phone is on speaker. You can pick up a digital Dictaphone for less than £20, and it’s well worth doing that.

You could also use a video camera, or a webcam on your computer, and record yourself speaking on the phone. Remember to have the phone on speaker phone though, otherwise the CSA worker won’t be heard on the recording.

Above all, be vigilant. Be wary. Be alert.

Comments

3 Responses to “What you need to know when dealing with the CSA”

  1. John on March 1st, 2011 8:47 am

    Having been on both sides this ‘shambles’ as an NRP and PWC, I would also add, that you should not put too much faith in the complaints system.

    Many years ago the complaints system worked to some extent, as between 2000 and 2005, the CSA made 15 mistakes with my case, the ICE investigated and that 5 of those were serious, bordering on criminal. I was given an assurance by the then executive that the handling of my case would improve. It was okay for a few years but when down hill drastically in 2009, where I had to make further complaints.

    The CSA began to continually ‘hound’ me regarding arrears, as a direct result of their mistakes. This culminated in a ‘bombshell’ in 2009, where they informed me that THEY had made a mistake with my case and proceeded to dump £6,400 worth of debt onto me. No negotiation, they dumped a DEO on my income.

    I went through the complaints system, from the ICE to my M.P. to the Ombudsman. At every step they ALL closed ranks and denied that I had been the victim of prolonged and continuous maladministration. I was ‘fobbed off’, even my useless M.P. was in the scam and gave me a great one liner. ” Parliamnetary protocol prevents me from interfering with your case”! Sounds like bulls–t to me!

    The only advice I can give now, is to keep the more than useless CSA in the spotlights by addressing issues on sites like this. The more the merrier, may mean it will be closed down!

    They can spout on about improvement with collection rates and compliancy, but they are averse to commenting on persistently targeting those who do pay, and yet £ 3.75 Billion remains uncollected..

    Therefore, how can this be a fair a proper system. it discrimates and hounds against the ones who do pay, and conveniently fails to target those who don’t and will not pay!

    It’s amazing to think that Banks and bankers pay less proportion of their wealth in taxes and bonuses. Huge companies operate within the UK, but have their base outside the UK and pay little or no tax, and yet if you are the parent of a child/children, you are hunted down like an animal!

    A complete and Utter shambles!

  2. sarah on March 1st, 2011 6:26 pm

    well said!!!

    Dont forget that I believe nearly 80% of staff are agency worker’s who dont have a clue and will tell you anthing to get you off the phone to appease you in some way to stop ranting at them.

    The way they deal with complaints is illegal and I have highlighted this on numerous occasions… they just don’t care.

    I complained how my details was given to my ex partner which is a huge break in data protection and against the law.. wrote a massive complaint and there answer was ‘its an internal investigation and you will not receive a reply to your complaint’ !!!!!!!!! F-ing outrageous..

    They will close with the power of us…

  3. j on September 18th, 2012 9:54 pm

    John on March 1st, 2011 8:47 am

    Having been on both sides this ‘shambles’ as an NRP and PWC, I would also add, that you should not put too much faith in the complaints system.

    I went through the complaints system, from the ICE to my M.P. to the Ombudsman. At every step they ALL closed ranks and denied that I had been the victim of prolonged and continuous maladministration. I was ‘fobbed off’, even my useless M.P. was in the scam and gave me a great one liner. ” Parliamnetary protocol prevents me from interfering with your case”! Sounds like bulls–t to me!

    Well John the csa is a branch of the DWP, the ICE is also a branch of the DWP so how ‘fair’, ‘unbiased’ and ‘independent’ do you think they are? The parliamentry and health service ombudsman is a little better and less biased but still dont want to get involved, after all the csa seems to be a big tax collector for the government so the PHSO may have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. (delay in sending money collected from nrp to pwc could mean it was ‘resting’ in DWP account earning interest) If your MP is as useless as our MP you have my sympathy, wont lift a finger unless a photo opportunity involved! Next election I’m putting out my own leaflet at my own expense clearly stating everything (nothing) my MP has done to help me. Just keep fighting, we will win in the end.

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