Fathers suffer as CSA appeals lag

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The Independent Online
Fathers appealing against awards made by the Child Support agency are having to wait an average of six months for a hearing, the watchdog body for tribunals complained yesterday.

The Council on Tribunals said the length of delays, which has steadily worsened, potentially cost men their homes because they had to keep paying maintenance pending the hearing. Lord Archer of Sandwell, chairman of the council, said the length of time it took for cases to be heard was due to delays within the CSA itself.

Almost half the 649 appeals which have been heard since the agency began work in April 1993 have found that the CSA was mistaken in its assessment and have reduced the payments.

Lord Archer, a QC and former Labour MP, speaking at a press conference in London to release the council's annual report, said: "If the CSA makes a mistake and somebody is over-assessed, he will have to continue to pay week after week.

"It might not seem a large sum of money to the people who decided the amount, but it adds up. By the time the appeal is heard, the man might be hopelessly in debt and it might be irretrievable. He might have had his house repossessed."

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