The Alliance Party has called for the Child Support Agency to be scrapped following a record of chaotic mismanagement and incompetence resulting in a failure to collect maintenance payments from errant fathers.
Cllr Tom Campbell, a member of Newtownabbey Council, said:
“This is an organisation lurching from one disaster to another. Despite huge investment of public money in staff and resources, the losses mount up and uncollected maintenance continues to remain at unacceptable levels. It is staggering that as a result of its incompetence, more than £1bn in maintenance is now being written off and will not now be collected. The backlog of applicants has risen by 20% in the last six months.”
Cllr Campbell, who is a solicitor by profession, said:
“The old system whereby maintenance amounts were fixed and enforced by the Courts was transparent, effective and fair. Parties being asked to pay maintenance were allowed to have their personal and working circumstances taken into account.
Failure to pay was also effectively enforced. What has happened since that system was replaced by the CSA is that more and more money is being wasted in trying to reform a service that is beyond repair. In an effort to improve the scheme procedural and other changes were introduced in 2003. These reforms cost £456m for a new computer system. It is families and the children involved who continue to suffer whilst the CSA seeks to muddle through a mess of its own creation.”