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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 12:31 GMT
'Basically, it doesn't work'
The head of the Child Support Agency has resigned amid widespread criticism of the agency's work, including its computer system. Employees, customers and others express their views on the problem-plagued agency.

EMPLOYEE, WHO WISHED TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS

"You could be just working on a case, trying to solve a problem and then an error message will pop up, which is what the agency calls an incident.

"What happens is that you can't work on that case anymore.

CSA logo
The agency's computer system has been causing a backlog of cases
"You could be talking weeks - more likely months - until there's a fix in the system.

"What the CSA wanted the system to do has not been conveyed to [computer company] EDS - or if it has, they have misunderstood.

"Basically it doesn't work."

DOUG SMITH, OUTGOING CSA CHIEF EXECUTIVE

"I and the senior management team have done a good job over the last year to mask the worst impact of this IT system from the people who really count in this, who are our clients."

MOTHER

As a single mother of twins, Michelle is due 57 a week in maintenance payments.

The CSA lost her first two applications for maintenance, and in October 2003 she received a letter saying: "The CSA is unable to resolve the computer incidents on your case."

"My children can't go to extra tuition classes, they can't go to their friends parties because I cannot physically afford it."

NICOLA SIMPSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF ONE PARENT PRESSURE GROUP

"Eighteen months after the agency was reformed, thousands of single parents haven't seen a penny of the money that was promised to them.

"It is money they need to support their children."

EMPLOYEE, WHO WISHED TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS

"A date (could generate an error message), even taking someone out of a household and putting someone else in.

"It just can't cope with change.

"People do live complicated lives - it just can't seem to cope with the real world."

SIR ARCHY KIRKWOOD, CHAIRMAN OF WORK AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE

"This is not just about computers.

"It is a systemic, chronic failure of management right across the totality of the agency."

DEPARTMENT OF WORK AND PENSIONS

"We are working with our supplier to remedy these as quickly as possible.

"In the meantime staff are working hard to shield clients from these problems."




SEE ALSO:
CSA chief resigns amid criticism
17 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Father takes CSA case to Europe
28 Jul 04 |  Scotland


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