Child Support Agency erred in 86% of cases

The Child Support Agency made errors or failed to fulfil statutory requirements in 86 per cent of its maintenance assessments in its first year of operation, a report by the chief adjudication officer for the agency said yesterday.

Not all these assessments were wrong, but in 39 per cent the payments levied were too high or too low, and in 35 per cent there was not enough evidence to tell whether the assessment was right or wrong. In another 11 per cent the assessment was not carried out properly, but the right sum was levied.

In just 14 per cent of the sample of 1,380 cases, taken from the 200,000 maintenance assessments in 1993-94, did the agency both follow the requirements of the legislation and get the sums right, the chief adjudication officer said. Alistair Burt, the junior social security minister, described the findings as 'disappointing', and Donald Dewar, Labour's social security spokesman, said the report showed 'genuinely shocking' maladministration.

'These findings must be a serious blow to the Child Support Agency and go a long way to explaining why confidence in the system is virtually nil,' Mr Dewar said.

The agency's performance also came under fire from Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General, although he noted that many of its calculations depended on complete, precise information from both parents.

'This information has often been late and of poor quality - incomplete, inaccurate or inconsistent - contributing to relatively high levels of error and uncertainty over the accuracy of many maintenance assessments,' he said.

As pressure groups for single parents said the report confirmed their bitterest complaints about the agency, Mr Burt admitted there were 'considerable problems to be overcome'. He added, however, that 'there is greater scope to be optimistic for the current year' and said the 'deliberate non-cooperation' of some absent parents had been a large factor in the agency's difficulties.

Sir John said the full extent of incorrect maintenance assessments could not yet be quantified because further information was needed from one or both parents. The agency assessed pounds 116m in maintenance and fees in the year to 13 March but recorded receipts of only pounds 14.9m. Its computers could not provide the information needed for proper performance monitoring.

Ernie Hazlewood, the chief adjudication officer, said in his report: 'I am aware that operational pressures have played a major part. There has been an understandable wish to clear cases quickly, and not asking for further evidence can quicken the process . . . Nevertheless, the overriding requirement is that the maintenance assessment is correctly calculated.'

Annual Report of the Chief Child Support Officer 1993-94; Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 670 - IX; HMSO.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on