Today's National Audit Report confirms what we've blogged many times- the Child Support Agency is a national disgrace:
- It costs taxpayers 70p for every £1 it collects
- Its case backlog is one-third of a million
- It takes nine months to process a case
The NAO points out the previous attempts at reform have cost us £540m, and achieved zilch. A further £321m is being spent on yet more reform, but nobody expects much improvement. So nearly a billion of our money blown on tinkering with a hopeless institution.
Of course, the government says it's drawing a line under its incompetence by appointing a Wise Man to find The Answer. Unfortunately, the... ahem, "wise man" in question is Sir David Henshaw, an old student politics mate of Jack Straw with a highly questionable beard (see here), whose previous experience was running Liverpool City Council. The latter is a local authority which has always been a byword for waste, incompetence, and often sleaze, and which as we noted previously, after its time under Henshaw was rated by the Audit Commission in the bottom 2% of councils for value for money.
So far, so bad. But there's a broader point.
The CSA scandal is no more than a particularly outrageous example of the Big Truth: Big Government is good at talk, but totally crap at delivery. Whether it's the CSA, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, the Rural Payments Agency, the Probation Service, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Health, or the Department of Extreme Wishful Thinking, delivery is not us.
Beards ain't gonna help.