Dealing with Non-Payers - DEBATE

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John Ward

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Mar 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/27/98
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In my post "A chance to debate the future" I suggested that this newsgroup
should debate some of the topics that Harriet Harman and others were
considering as part of CSA reform.

This current post provides the chance of debating "Dealing with Non-Payers"
- see below.

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TOPIC:

(Replies to questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security, from
Hansard, 23
Mar 1998). The Secretary of State for Social Security and Minister for
Women (Ms Harriet Harman):
(SNIP)

Mr. Wicks: Given that the great majority of mothers and children on income
support receive no child maintenance from their fathers, will the Secretary
of State consider setting a new target to tackle the tough cases: the men
who are determined never to pay a penny? In my advice surgery on Friday
night, I met a mother who had supplied all the information that was needed
to the CSA. Two years on, she is still not receiving a penny.

Ms Harman: My hon. Friend is absolutely right: there is a huge sense of
grievance among absent parents--usually fathers--when there is a delay in
assessing maintenance and then, suddenly, they are hit with large arrears
that might turn out to be incorrect; there is also a burning sense of
grievance among parents with care--usually mothers--that although a correct
award has been made, fathers sometimes avoid paying.

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MY STARTER FOR TEN:

I can understand the reluctance of people to cooperate with the current CSA
regime. Everyone agrees that it is very flakey.

This excuse cannot live forever. Anyone with a strong view should "speak
now or forever hold their peace".

Once the new system is in place, there should be a strong enforcement
system. In Wisconsin this includes losing licences (for example, driving
licences), etc.

I believe that once the new system is in place, it should represent "how
the UK handles child support", and set the standard for the next
generation.

----------

John Ward


John Ward

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Mar 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/30/98
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John Ward <john...@iclweb.com> wrote in article
<01bd59c3$09cd82c0$e12b...@iclweb.com>...

> This current post provides the chance of debating "Dealing with
Non-Payers"
> - see below.
(SNIP)

> Ms Harman: My hon. Friend is absolutely right: there is a huge sense of
> grievance among absent parents--usually fathers--when there is a delay in
> assessing maintenance and then, suddenly, they are hit with large arrears
> that might turn out to be incorrect; there is also a burning sense of
> grievance among parents with care--usually mothers--that although a
correct
> award has been made, fathers sometimes avoid paying.

Concensus appears difficult to achieve on most topics. However, I believe
from the posts that the following is pretty well agreed.

The vast majority of APs are willing to pay a reasonable amount of
maintenance (whatever "reasonable" means), and have this enforced. But only
if:
- the calculation is good
- the elapsed time to do the calculation is short enough

Enforcement is only acceptable if:
1: the calculation is accurate enough that APs don't get screwed for
excessive amounts
2: the time to calculate the amount is small enough that excessive arrears
are not built up and the PWC does not suffer in the meantime
3: the interaction between the AP and the CSA is sensible enough for points
1 & 2 to be achieved without excessive effort by either parent

In this case, enforcement can be quite strict.

(Views?)


John Ward


Alan Ockerby

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Mar 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/31/98
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Seems sensible, certainly there is no excuss taking months and months for an
assessment when they have all the details.
The other point about enforcemnet of a reasonable amount comes back to the
old chestnut of "what is a reasonable amount", people certainly in my
experience are willing to pay what they can afford. I have been monitoring
the NG but have not yet seen a satisfactory answer. I think we need to get a
concrete way of assessing AP's to test it to see if it is practical.
Suggestions ?

Alan

John Ward wrote in message <01bd5c27$b2d18f40$e12b...@iclweb.com>...

Chris Dalby

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Mar 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/31/98
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I agree with John Ward's comments most AP's would be settled with paying
reasonable amounts to PWC if they had confidence in the system.

A thought that has occurred to me over several months is that the Agency
should be unbiased and freely give ad vice to both sides. If the system is
fair then there would little to argue about. This would really streamline
the administration of the Agency.

Why are AP's treated the way they are, but on the other hand, I am both and
AP and a PWC and quite frankly I get a rough deal on both sides of the
fence.

See my posting "Help Required Appeal or Departures Application.


Chris Dalby

A45 flyer

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Mar 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/31/98
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>From: "Chris Dalby"

>most AP's would be settled with paying
>reasonable amounts to PWC if they had confidence in the system.

>A thought that has occurred to me over several months is that the Agency
>should be unbiased and freely give ad vice to both sides. If the system is
>fair then there would little to argue about. This would really streamline
>the administration of the Agency.

All civil servants are supposed to be unbiased and freely give advice, and by
and large, they do. That applies to all branches of the "big" departments like
IR and DSS, and it certainly includes the CSA.

But you do have a point - most interface advisors only have one "client" to
deal with and advise, whether on taxation or on benefits, etc. In the CSA
situation, "good advice" to one party may be seen by the "other side" as
detrimental to their interests. In these circumstances, it is essential that
CSA officers act impartially and without leaning to either parent.

Brian L

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