Most parents understand their responsibility towards their children regardless of their personal relationships with their spouses. However, sometimes, logistics can come in the way of taking care of the child and making sure that he is well taken care of, especially when one parent cannot be around. This is where the Child Support Agency or CSA enters the picture. The mandate of the CSA is to help parents support their children and their development in various ways. Unfortunately, CSA is like all organisations in that it can also make mistakes in exercising its responsibilities. Thus, knowing how to have your CSA complaints resolved can stand you in good stead if you plan to or are using CSA.
What Is The Child Support Agency And What Services Does It Provide?
The CSA is operated by the statutory child maintenance service. It is responsible for handling or administering child maintenance schemes that were introduced in the United Kingdom in 1993 and 2003. The primary responsibility of the CSA is to ensure that parents who are not living with their children contribute towards their development financially. As per the rules and regulations followed by the CSA, a child under the age of 16 is entitled to receive child maintenance and a child under the age of 20 is entitled to receive child maintenance provided he is studying on a full time basis. There are various services that the CSA provides that are designed to make it easier for parents to support their children. This means that your CSA complaints can be related to any one of the following.
- Calculating the value of child maintenance to be paid,
- Logistical arrangements for collection and delivery of payments,
- Reassessing situations based on changing circumstances,
- Taking action against payment defaults,
- Tracing a parent whose whereabouts are unknown, and
- Resolving disagreements about parentage.
While these six are the primary responsibilities of the CSA, you could have complaints about aspects associated with them as well. However, if you want your complaints about the CSA to be resolved quickly and in your favour then you will have to learn about the CSA complaints redressal procedure as well as your escalation options.
What Happens When The Child Support Agency Makes A Mistake?
If a mistake is made by the CSA then it is known as a case of maladministration. Maladministration cases are considered to be very serious and many times can even lead to special payments being made by the government to the individual to compensate for the damage caused by the mistake of the CSA. There are various clauses and rules that govern the element of special payments being made as a result of maladministration on the part of the CSA which can be discovered in this special payments guide. However, complaints will still have to be filed and the redressal process followed.
How to Get Your CSA Complaints Through?
There is a clear, hierarchical complaints redressal process that you should follow when it comes to the CSA. The in-depth process is designed to ensure that no complaints go unanswered or unresolved for any extended period of time. Before everything else, you will have to take your CSA complaints to the CSA officer who has been dealing with your case. This officer will take up to 15 days to consider your complaint and then give you a response on whether a resolution is needed or not and what resolutions are possible if it is.
If you are unhappy with the way your complaints have been handled by the CSA dealing hand then you will have the option to take your complaints to CSA’s Complaints Resolution Team. The Complaints Resolution Team usually acknowledges the receipt of complaints within two days, takes 15 days to investigate the matter, and if it expects delays it informs the complainant of the same. Unsatisfactory responses or resolutions from the Complaints Resolution Team mean that you can take your complaints to the Complaints Review Team. The Complaints Review Team follows the same timelines that the Complaints Resolution Team does but will work on evaluating the resolution process as opposed to the initial complaint.
What Are Your Escalation Options Outside The CSA?
The internal processes of the CSA, while very accomplished at dealing with CSA complaints can sometimes be insufficient with particularly complex and contentious complaints. In such situations, you may want to escalate your complaints outside of the CSA. The first escalation step requires you to take your complaints about the CSA to the Independent Case Examiner. The responsibility of the Independent Case Examiner is to investigate disputes between the citizens of the country and various government organisations, of which the CSA is one. The Independent Case Examiner deals with all CSA complaints independently which means that it only considers the laws and facts of the matter and tries to come up with a fair decision.
You should note that taking your complaints to the Independent Case Examiner means that there will be a thorough review of the mistakes and events leading up to your complaints. Effectively, the process can take months at a time. After getting the final judgement from the Independent Case Examiner, you still think that you are being treated unfairly and the law is not being followed then you can take the matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. For this, you will have to approach your local MP with your CSA complaints and ask him to present it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
What Kind Of Resolutions Can You Expect For Your CSA Complaints?
In simple terms, there are two types of resolutions you can expect for your CSA complaints at any stage of the complaints and escalation process. The first is that your complaints are considered invalid and you get an explanation of why the decisions you are complaining about are right. The second is that it is proven that a mistake was made. In the second scenario you can get an apology, an explanation of the mistake, corrections for the mistake, a consolatory payment, or compensation for the mistakes made.
If you would like further information regarding CSA complaints how about checking out the UK Government page.
Call cost of 7p per minute plus your operator’s access charge may apply if you’ll call the CSA Complaints Number on 0843 515 9092.