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The Independent Online
Complaints about the Child Support Agency are running at such a level that they are hampering investigations into administrative failures by other government departments and agencies, Sir William Reid, the Ombudsman, said yesterday.

There has been no reduction in the level of complaints - 240 in the first six months of this year against 243 in the same period last year - and that failure comes despite two special and deeply critical reports by Sir William and assurances he has been given that the agency's systems have been improved. The CSA now accounts for a quarter of all cases put to the Ombudsman, and the burden is such that Sir William said he now only investigates those where there is evidence of irrecoverable financial loss, or the complaint is of a novel kind. Most, he added, involved "the same recurring faults" that have plagued the CSA since its inception - "inaccuracy, delays in dealing with corres-pondence, failure to return phone calls". Nicholas Timmins