Open University T306

T306 Block 1: Activity 13

Identify and record any stake you hold in this situation.

I wouldn’t have had much of a stake in the CSA situation back in the 90s, other than as a tax-payer. I could argue that I’d seen it on the news and had views on it then, which were based mostly on the way that the BBC et al were reporting it. If my memory serves me well then in certainly didn’t get much of a glowing review.

These days I still have no need of the CSA, although I do have a daughter with my wife. Our relationship is excellent but I guess there’s still potential that something can go wrong with our marriage and the CSA could be called into action on my daughter’s behalf. I very much doubt this will happen, but Ruby is only two and a lot can happen in 16 years.

My views on the CSA aren’t fully formed but I do have a generally negative view of the people running it. I think that the government prioritised making savings over helping lone parents and rushed into legislation. It seems to me that the CSA wasn’t properly prepared when it started off and didn’t have adequate organisational structures or suitable IT systems. There were training problems, failures to reach some rather low expectations and few people saying it was a success.

I do think that the tax-payer shouldn’t be subsidising children if the parents of that child are capable of doing so. I also think that parents are entitled to have a life of their own after marriage and start new families – the CSA shouldn’t be making absent parents bankrupt. It’s a delicate balancing act and the CSA’s magic formula really didn’t take much of this into account.

I’m generally in favour of supporting families on low incomes. I do think it’s right that absent parents are made to pay to bring up their own children but where this is not possible the tax-payer should ensure a minimum level of care for that child. It’s not their fault that mummy and daddy got divorced. The CSA was a crude tool that failed many families and it made me angry that the government was using it to save themselves a few hundred million pounds.

On the other hand, it’s right that they save us money. It’s right that us tax-payers should avoid unnecessary expense and it’s right that absent parents should pay for their own kids. In this case, however, the balance of power was with the bean counters rather than with those wishing to help the disadvantaged.

Right idea, wrong implementation.

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