LETTER: CSA performance has improved

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The Independent Online
From Mr Tony Ward

Sir: Although Polly Toynbee's article ("Why single mothers baffle Mr Lilley", 11 October) raises a number of interesting discussion points, I am disappointed to see that she is recycling the same misinformed comparisons about the amounts of money collected by the Child Support Agency and the "old system", as she describes it.

The agency's performance has improved dramatically since the difficult first year of operation, and over pounds 187m child maintenance was paid in 1994-95 as a direct result of CSA action. Of this, pounds 138m went to parents looking after children.

Our work that year also saved taxpayers some pounds 479m that would otherwise have been paid in Social Security benefits. For 1995-96, we are on track to achieve the arrangement or collection of pounds 300m in maintenance, and we forecast savings to the taxpayer of some pounds 500m.

We have not abandoned anybody, let alone the difficult cases. To date, we have traced nearly 100,000 absent parents whose whereabouts were previously unknown. We are publicly committed to recommencing work before the end of 1995 on cases where we deferred action at the end of last year so that we could effectively tackle those cases where the absent parent is trying to avoid their financial liability. Hardly a fiasco or an organisation on the verge of collapse.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Ward

Director of Operations

Child Support Agency

London, SW1

13 October