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Child Support Agency

Volume 612: debated on Monday 4 July 2016

The petition of Mr Craig Bulman,

Declares that the petitioner received unacceptable treatment from the Child Support Agency (CSA); further that the petitioner incurred significant losses and damages including loss of job as result of this treatment; further that the CSA has admitted to acting in an inappropriate manner towards the petitioner and awarded a consolatory payment of £5,000 in April 2012; further that this payment does not suffice to cover loss of earnings or impact on the petitioner’s health and life; and further that the petitioner is unable to access legal aid or other legal assistance to challenge the value of this payment, which the petitioner believes is against his rights under Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is integral to upholding the rule of law.

The petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to put pressure on the Child Support Agency to re-examine the case of Mr Bulman and award a much higher compensatory payment for the loss, harm, injury and damages caused as a result of their unacceptable treatment of the petitioner.

And the petitioner remains, etc. —[Presented by Mr Alan Campbell , Official Report, 27 April 2016; Vol. 608, c. 10P.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr Iain Duncan Smith):

In January 2012 the Child Support Agency (the Agency) conducted a full review of Master Bulman’s child support case. It confirmed that an error had been made by including a War Disablement Pension in the child maintenance calculation. The Agency corrected the child maintenance calculations and the accounts to take into account any overcharge of child maintenance that had occurred due to this Departmental error. Despite the corrections Master Bulman still had outstanding arrears.

In March 2012 the Agency acknowledged that it had mal-administered Master Bulman’s case and an award of £5,000 was agreed as recognition of maladministration and the inconvenience that Master Bulman had suffered.

Treasury guidance provides public sector organisations with direction and guidance on the role of special payments in seeking to provide remedy for maladministration. Parliament makes no provision for special payments when voting money, nor has it put in place legislation governing special payments. As such there is no statutory framework for making such payments. Due to their exceptional nature, special payments are made on a discretionary, ‘ex gratia’ basis. This means that deciding whether to make a payment (in any case or situation) and if so, how much, is a matter of judgment.

As special payments are not covered by statute, customers have no right of appeal against either the amount of a special payment or a refusal to make one.