‘Reforms to CSA will not cost jobs’

THE town’s MP has won reassurances that proposed reforms of the Child Support Agency (CSA) will not mean the closure of its Hastings offices.

The Government has published plans to overhaul the body, which has come under heavy criticism since it was created in 1993.

Hastings MP Amber Rudd sought pledges that staff at Ashdown House, in Sedlescombe Road North, would not be in danger of losing their jobs and raised the issue in Parliament this week.

At Oral Questions to the Department for Work and Pensions in the Chamber of the House of Commons on Monday, Ms Rudd said: “The CSA’s office for London and the south east is in Hastings and employs nearly 1,000 to do an often difficult and challenging job. “When the Minister brings forward her reform plans, I ask her to ensure that this important service is not relocated, because a great deal of local expertise has been built up.”

In response, Maria Miller, Work and Pensions Minister, said: “I thank my honourable Friend for giving me the opportunity to pay tribute to the excellent work of the CSA staff in Hastings. I reassure her that the changes that we are planning will have a negligible effect on delivery staff.”

Under the proposals, the CSA would be directly under ministerial control.

At present only half of children living in separated families have financial support in place. The Government says the proposed reforms would ensure more separated parents have effective financial support in place for their children.

Parents will be supported and helped to make their own, family-based child maintenance arrangements and mediation would be encouraged.

Subject to approval by Parliament, the agency would be abolished from July 31 and it would become a business unit under the Department for Work and Pensions.

After Monday’s debate in the Commons, Ms Rudd said: “It is good news to hear that the professionalism and commitment of employees at the CSA is recognised at the highest level, and that this will remain in Hastings.”