Kinship Carers Welcome Budget News
The charity Family Rights Group today hailed the Chancellor’s announcement to tackle discrimination in the benefits system which adversely affects many grandparents and other relatives who are raising children who cannot live with their parents.
Family and friends carers who are raising children permanently under a special guardianship or residence order may receive some help from the local authority in the form of a Special Guardianship Allowance or Residence Allowance.
The Government’s announcement means that from April 2011 these allowances, and Section 50 payments made to some Scottish carers, will be disregarded as income when calculating entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit bringing these payments into line with the treatment of Child Maintenance.
In effect this step will mean that some carers will be gain by up to £47.69 per week per child from next April.
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group, who has led the campaign on behalf of the Kinship Care Alliance, which comprises organisations supporting family and friends carers said:
“The Government is to be congratulated for having listened to family and friends carers. This measure will ensure that family and friends carers who have stepped in to raise a child – who might otherwise be in state care and who receive some some payment from the local authority specifically to help with the costs of the child – aren’t penalised in terms of reductions in their Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.
“We believe significantly more still need to be done, including the introduction of a national financial allowance and support system to enable more children who are in the care system to live safely and securely with their wider family and to assist many children who are currently living with impoverished family and friends carers. Today’s announcement is just a first step, but important nonetheless.”
She went on “Family and friends carers are bringing up children as a result of tragedy or trauma, including parental mental or physical ill health, domestic abuse, alcohol or substance misuse, imprisonment or bereavement. Research has shown that these children have suffered similar adversities to those in the care system, yet family and friends carers often suffer significant financial hardship as a result of taking on the care of the children as well as overcrowding as well as isolation•
Nigel Priestley, Senior Partner of Ridley and Hall Huddersfield is a Trustee of Family Rights Group and a specialist lawyer for Kinship and Grandparent Carers.
“This announcement might be buried in the small print but it’s a great victory.”
He praised the hard work of Cathy Ashley. “She is a tenacious battler for Kinship carers. The work of Family Rights Group is vital to make sure the interests of Kinship and Grandparent carers are recognised by the Government. At a time when many charities that help to fund FRG find their resources in great demand, this is clear evidence that in supporting Family Rights Group their money is being well spent.”
“A Residence Allowance or Special Guardianship Allowance simply goes towards the cost of caring for the child. It should never have been taken into account when these Benefits were claimed.
Carers who have put children first should be helped – not discriminated against. It’s hard enough finding the money to care for a child without then finding that they lost out in claiming Housing benefit and Council Tax. Most are on very tight budgets. Every little bit helps.
For more information contact Nigel Priestley on 01484 538421 or 07885 430085
or Cathy Ashley
Family Rights Group
020 7923 2628