21 April 2000
A highly critical report, Child Support Agency: Client Funds Account 1998/99, sets out a catalogue of inadequacies in the agency's administration of child support which have not been resolved since the body was established in April 1993.
Five years on, in 1998/99, 23% of new maintenance assessments were wrong, 35% of receipts from non-resident parents were for the wrong amounts, as were 79% of maintenance balances, according to the PAC.
The committee of MPs warned on April 20 that the agency is unlikely to solve the continuing problems unless it rids itself of the 'legacy of error'. It is also dependent on new legislation which comes into effect in 2002 and the provision of a new IT system.
The PAC is concerned that unless changes are made, the errors could 'pollute' the new system. Chairman David Davis said: 'The poor performance of the Child Support Agency over the past five years has adversely affected hundreds of thousands of people at very stressful periods of their lives and it is totally unacceptable.'
The CSA said the new IT system and the proposed changes offered a solution to the problem.
A statement said: 'We want to introduce reform as soon as possible but there is much to do to ensure the new system works effectively from the start.'