CSA is a failure, says Blair

Last updated at 08:59 17 November 2005

Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that the controversial Child Support Agency was "not properly suited" to its job and that the Government was "looking urgently" at solutions to its cash problems.

In Commons question time exchanges with Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy yesterday, Mr Blair said the CSA was an investigating, adjudicating and enforcement agency all rolled into one.

"The truth is it is extremely difficult and we are looking urgently at what the solutions may be to it but I have to say I think that the problem is a fundamental one which is the nature of the task that they're called upon to perform," he said.

"For reasons I understand, the previous government established the Child Support Agency in order to make sure that parents carried out their obligations to their children.

"The truth is, the agency itself is not properly suited to carry out that task".

Mr Kennedy said the CSA had "an appalling track record" and that for every £1 it spent on bureaucratic costs, it only got £1.85 through to children.

The Government's failure to tackle the issue was "disgraceful", he added.