'Farcical' CSA forced to abandon its targets

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Indy Politics

The Child Support Agency has been condemned as a "farce" after ditching performance targets amid chaos over its computer system.

The Child Support Agency has been condemned as a "farce" after ditching performance targets amid chaos over its computer system.

The CSA has abandoned targets for collecting hundreds of millions of pounds in unpaid maintenance and for improving the perceptions of clients. The agency also abandoned its public target for increasing the number of payments it handles, and a goal to deal with cases within six weeks.

Opposition MPs accused ministers of trying to bury bad news just weeks after its chief executive, Doug Smith, stepped down due to chaos over its new £450m computer system. Details of the problems were contained in the Department for Work and Pensions' autumn performance report just a month after Mr Smith stood down.

Last week, the Tories accused the Government of rewarding failure after Mr Smith was made a CBE in the New Year's honours list.

Professor Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman, condemned the decision to abandon the targets. He said: "The whole target-setting process is becoming a farce. When outcomes are embarrassing you just don't publish them."

The targets, covering central areas of the agency's work, fall due at the end of the financial year, a month before the likely date of a general election.

Public targets for transferring cases onto the new computer system and handling cases within six weeks have been abandoned in favour of an "internal target".

The Department for Work and Pensions said: "The agency has continued to set targets and monitor performance internally. The intention will be to publish targets in these areas in future years once the backlogs reduce to levels that represent a reasonable head of work."

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