Identifying the Cause of the Child Support Agency's Problems
by G Bates, D Hutchinson, T Robertson, A Wadsworth, R Watson
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The project and the authors

General information

We were set the open ended assignment to investigate an area of Public Sector provision. We were given guidelines about how to analyse the area we selected, but primarily we were left to discern the major issues surrounding the agencies or services picked. As noted in the personal descriptions below we selected the CSA, as one of our members had particular interest in this agency.

The project was set under a Third Year management module: Public Services Management. Anthony Boland is the Module Leader, and he resides within the Newcastle University Business School, within which he specialize in Management studies.

The course that all the authors are undertaking is Business Management BA Hons. This is a flexible three year degree course.

Richard Philip Ernest Watson

Age: 20

I was born in Whitehaven, West Cumbria. I lived in Gosforth, and was educated at Wyndham Comprehensive before leaving for Newcastle University, in 2000, to study Business Management, where I am now half way through the Third Year.

Following the completion of my degree I am going to undertake a year in industry specialising in Human Resource Management to prepare me for a Masters in HRM the following year, back here in Newcastle.

My contribution to the paper was an analysis of the history of the agency and why it must be managed within the public arena, and not in the private sector. Both these activities allowed me to draw generic insights in to key governmental issues and gave me valuable knowledge that will help me complete the module I am undertaking more successfully. The subject area was prompted by Andrew Wadsworth, yet I think we all felt it a worthy and interesting subject area, due to its profound effects on a very vulnerable sector of society and the huge number of problems the Agency has faced.

Andrew Philip Wadsworth

Age 22

Background: I was born in Truro, Cornwall in 1980. Lived in St. Austell, Cornwall until 1998 when I moved to Luton to join Debenhams Retail Management Training Scheme. After two years at Debenhanms and having completed the programme and an NVQ level 4 in Management I moved to Newcastle to go to university I started in 2000, studying Business Management.

Current activities and future plans: My career focus after graduating is upon teaching and I will be continuing my studies at Newcastle University after gaining a place on a P.G.C.E. in Mathematics for Key stage 2 & 3 (age 7-14) course starting in September 2003. I am highly focused on this aim and spend almost all my free time outside of university working either with children or to enhancing my teaching knowledge I have been a volunteer at a local primary school for the last year and spend up to 3 days a week helping out with all sorts of school activities. I also help out at a local teenage youth group for the deaf and hearing and am studying towards my level 1 exam in sign language.

Project interest: It was my suggestion that we undertook a study of the CSA as I had a personal interest in the project. Firstly having heard first hand from my uncle the problems that non-resident parents have in dealing with the CSA and how inconsistent the process was. It caused him unnecessary and extreme stress at a time that was difficult enough anyway after the breaking up of his family. The second focus came from working in the school. The catchment area for the school is from a fairly run down area and such a lot of the children at the school are disadvantaged and come from single parent families. I was interested in how the government had been failing them and how they could be better supported.

Daniel Hutchison


I was born in Lancaster on 21/02/81, where I was educated at the Lancaster Royal Grammar School. I am now in the third year of a Business Management degree BA Hons, at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

My outside interests include travel, foreign culture, language, teaching, management, sign language.

In the future I plan to live abroad connected to TEFL world, as I am now a fully qualified teacher and spend my spare time teaching foreign students at the University

My contribution to the paper was mostly to deal with issues of accountability between the government minister and CEO of the Agency. In undertaking paper I found it highly thought provoking and interesting.

Terry Robertson

Age: 21

I'm originally from Durham and am currently in the final year of my Business Management degree at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. I hope to specialise in various aspects of Organisational Behaviour in the future and work in consultancy to enhance the performance of organisations in both the commercial and voluntary sectors.

My focus, with regard to the CSA, lies with the implementation of New Public Management principles and thus my contribution to the paper centred upon the internal management of the system. I am of the opinion that performance measures should be a main consideration of today's government, especially if it continues with its scheme of devolution. Such measures have significant consequence in autonomous government agencies and will lead to further failures if they are not addressed with due attention. Only by solving the conflict between ministers and management over performance measures can the principles of devolution be expected to show positive results beneficial to the public.

Georgina Bates

Age: 21

I am originally from Lincoln, and am now as is the entire group in the final year of my Management degree at Newcastle. I am hoping to go on to either buying/marketing position next year.

I worked with Terry on my contribution to the paper dealing with applying new public management issues to the CSA. I found this challenging and rewarding and studying this Agency opened my eyes to many governmental problems and offered me much insight into these matters.

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Page last updated: 5 July, 2004 © Copyright G Bates, D Hutchinson, T Robertson, A Wadsworth, R Watson 2002