Making Complaints about the CMS Service
You have some recourse if you are not satisfied with the service you received. The first step is to contact the staff at the Child Maintenance Service or the CSA.
Often, there are simple ways for them to clear up any misunderstandings.
What if it Does Not get Resolved?
If the office that manages your case cannot find a solution they will contact the Complaints Resolution Team. The team will do their best to fix the complaint within fifteen (15) working days.
The staff will keep you updated if they think it will take longer than a few weeks. They will also try to a agree an acceptable timetable with you.
You may still be unsatisfied with the way that the Complaints Resolution Team is dealing with your complaint. In this case, you can ask the Complaints Review Team to take a look at the problem.
The Independent Case Examiner
You can also bring a complaint to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). They can look into the grievance once you have been through the full complaints process.
Note: You must receive a final response from the Child Maintenance Service or CSA. Their response clears the way for you to contact the Independent Case Examiner.
In most cases, you should be happy with the response from the Independent Case Examiner. If not, you can ask your MP to get the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to review it.
If the Complaint is Valid
Providing you have a valid complaint the Child Maintenance Service or the Child Support Agency will then:
- Give you an apology and an explanation of what went wrong.
- Make any necessary or appropriate changes to correct the situation.
Note: In some cases, you might get a consolatory payment if the treatment is particularly bad. Even so, there is no legal right to it.
Making an Appeal
There is an appeals process for decisions on child maintenance payment amounts. But, you must contact the Child Maintenance Service or the CSA before you lodge an appeal.
You would first need to ask their staff to look at the decision again. It is a standard process called ‘mandatory reconsideration‘. They will need to know why you disagree with the decision.
You can also appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. This would be the next step if you remain unhappy with the mandatory reconsideration outcome. The tribunal is impartial and functions independent of the government.
Appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal
Make an appeal to the tribunal within one (1) month of the mandatory reconsideration decision. Submitting an appeal later than one month means you would need to explain why you did not submit it sooner.
Download ‘Form SSCS2: Appeal a Child Maintenance Group decision by the DWP‘. Fill in form SSCS2 and send it to the address written on the document.
You will have a choice to attend the tribunal hearing or not. Attending the hearing would give you an opportunity to explain your case. If not, the appeal gets decided based on the appeal form (and any supporting evidence).
You can provide any evidence that you have once you submit an appeal. A judge and several experts will discuss the information and any evidence you provide.
The judge will make a decision based on the specific details in the case. As a rule, it takes around six (6) months for an appeal to get heard by a tribunal.