Polishing Turds

THe BBC headline reads ‘Private firms to chase CSA debts‘ – it might as well read ‘Government try to polish turd’.

The report seems straight forward enough; the latest master plan to try and turn around the Child Support Agency looks set to be to try using private sector debt collectors to pull in the cash – and idea that the report states has been ‘agreed’ in principle.

The CSA was set up 1993 and after thirteen years not only does it not work – even Blair has had to admit that it is not fit for purpose – but it has never worked. In thirteen years it has consistantly failed to deliver on its objectives.

Doesn’t that tell you something straight away? That is not a case of a good idea badly done but that there is serious structural problems which run right back to the original concept of the CSA. In short, its been a fuck up from start to finish and needs to be put out of its misery – and everybody else’s misery.

What the CSA tells us is that the government, Whitehall and its legions of functionaries and overpaid consultants simply haven’t got a fucking clue what to do with the CSA or how to go about sorting it out – they just keep banging away with it because between them, not one of them has a single constructive idea to put forward. It is rank incompetence on the grossest possible scale, a blind and stubborn refusal to admit the truth that not only has it not worked but it never will work – it is an idea that, systemically, is incapable of working.

But, you might say, the principle that fathers should pay for, or towards, the upkeep of their kids is right – of course it is – but just because that is right in principle does not mean that the CSA is right in practice – patently it isn’t.

Why is it that the government should be near congenitally incapable of facing up to this situation and admitting the truth?

Because they either cannot understand or cannot comprehend the reason why the CSA has failed, which is simply that one cannot reduce the complexity of human relationships which are fundamental to this whole issue; to a series of simple systems, procedures and formulae that can be administered efficiently by a pen-pusher in an office – its not a systems problem, its a people problem and because its a people problem and people are inefficient, so any real solutions will also be, by their very nature, inefficient in the sense that outcomes have to be tailored to the individual circumstances of each case to the persons, and personalities involved in it.

Pushing the responsibility for debt collection on to the private sector will not solve the problem, merely delay the inevitable for another couple of years, which is by any measure a complete waste of time.

As the saying goes, and the CSA proves, you really can’t polish a turd.

Just a thought here, but is anyone else just a tad suspicious that this announcement comes on ther same day that the press is full of stories about F4J planning to kidnap Blair’s rugrat? Coincidence? Opportunism? Or just a timed event?

You decide.

  • Rob

    Personally I don’t think that last comment in your post is very worthy of you, mate.

    It’s fair enough to say you don’t think farming out the enforcement of payment to the private sector will work – but what are your ideas for changing the system? Get rid of the CSA altogether? What would you replace it with, and how would you enforce payments by absent fathers? There are no suggestions in your post.

  • Unity

    Ok. Ok.

    The ‘timed event’ comment was pushing it but knowing how sensitive the party is media schedules and timings plus the fact that this leaked to appear mid-to-late afternoon via John Pienaar – admittedly a good correspondent but rather lacking in status as Chief Poliical Correspondent of Radio 5 Live – and, of course, its a heavy news day with the F4J/Leo Blair non-story fairly screams of opportunism in the ranks and an attempted burial of the story.

    As for dealing with the CSA, yes I do have some ideas – there is rather more to this than merely enforcing payments for starters – but it will need another post to cover it.