Financial Entitlements for Kinship Carers

I have posted on this topic before. The One Show tonight ran a piece about Local Authorities advising kinship carers to seek residence orders in order to avoid their ongoing duty to a child, in particular to avoid an ongoing financial duty by way of carers allowance. I just wanted to briefly post about this because I think some people could have come away with a rather oversimplified view of the situation, namely ‘residence order = bad, kinship carers allowance  = good’. As ever, it ain’t that simple.

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The basic premise was valid – local authorities often do try to push cases in the direction of private law orders in order to close their files (and thereby focus resources on the families who have more acute need), and sometimes this becomes resource rather than welfare driven (and there are examples of this in the previous post linked above). However the situation is much more complex than is suggested by the piece. There are any number of reasons why a residence order may be the most suitable arrangement notwithstanding the potential financial disadvantage: not least the fact that it will give parental responsibility to the carer and NOT the local authority and will (all things being equal) leave the family to go about their normal lives in peace.

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The report slightly missed the point about the entitlement to a kinship carers allowance – which is that entitlement is determined by whether or not the arrangment was set up by the local authority following their intervention to protect the child. If that is the case the allowance is payable for as long as the child remains in kinship care unless and until a residence order is later made. And special guardianship orders are another option which was not discussed at all.

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The piece also suggested that where a residence order had been obtained the situation could be reversed to give the carer status and entitlement to kinship carers allowances. I am dubious about this as is Nigel Priestley, the solicitor featured in the One Show report and in one of the cases referred to in my previous post. See his comments as quoted on The One Show’s information pages.

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Like the One Show report I have only touched the surface of this area of law which is quite complicated. I have highlighted one or two points which do not come through sufficiently clearly in the short tv piece. Anyone who is in the position of recently taking over care of a young relative and wondering what to do should get advice. The Family Rights Group factsheets highlighted by The One Show Info pages are a really good starting point. If you are in any doubt seek advice from a lawyer, and if they cannot afford a lawyer and cannot obtain legal aid they should ask the local authority to pay for a consultation with a family solicitor to clarify their rights and options. Some local authorities will agree to meet this cost as a one off.

9 thoughts on “Financial Entitlements for Kinship Carers

  1. M K D Stubberfield

    Hi,
    Wondering if you can give some guidance on the following, or advise where I can get more information.
    As grandparents we took our grandaughter into our care through Hampshire County Council as foster carers, this following no improvement with the parents lifestyle developed into a ‘Residential Care Order’ (six years ago) through the courts with social seervices being involved. We receive the ‘kinship payment’ which the court appointed guardian pushed through until our grandaughter who is now 13 reaches the age of 16.
    She has been with us for 6 1/2 years now, we are considering moving from Hampshire to Dorset, will this mean that the payment currently in receipt will become invalid as we would be out of Hampshire and in another county?
    Hope you can advise best route to follow
    Regards
    Martin/Lillian Stubberfield

    • Hello, I can’t give you legal advice through this blog, but what I can suggest is that you take a look at the begrand.net website, which has some useful information. From your message I am not sure whether you are in receipt of kinship carers allowance or residence order allowance, but in either case a good starting point would be to look at the local authority’s policies which are available by searching for ‘residence order allowance’ and ‘kinship carers allowance’ on the Hampshire website. I’ve taken a quick look at them and it seems to me that the answer to your question may well depend on whether the child is under a care or residence order (if a care order the LA may try and pass responsibility over to Dorset). If she is under a care order you will need in any event to consult the LA before moving. I’d suggest taking a copy of any agreement or order you have along with a copy of these policies to your local CAB or a local solicitor, or that you simply ask the Local Authority to confirm to you what their position would be if you were to move – preferably in writing. Hope this helps.

  2. I have been looking after my sons friend as his mother passed away suddenly, Social Services have apoligised recently as they have not done there job, i have been in receipt of £30 a week for the last 10 week, he has been with me for 12 months

  3. Hi there,

    My charity could help you. We give free help and advice to kinship carers (in particular relating to financial support). We also have a network of kinship carers, as well as free events round the country. Our website is http://www.grandparentsplus.org.uk and our advice line is 0300 123 7015

    Hope that’s helpful
    Agnes

  4. I have looked after my neice for the past 5yr, social services advised me that a residence order was the best way forward. Since the residence order was granted i have had no help financially or emotionally. Life is a struggle she is now 7. Where can i get best info from that isn’t going to cost.

    • try the grandparents association – they have some good leaflets about kinship carers and allowances etc.

  5. I took over my late sisters two children when she died of cancer. I only got to know six weeks about the cancer and she was gone at the end of the sixth week. I have struggled with the two children and social services have offered no help and suggested an SGO which we objected and are still struggling to be recognise as kinship care role. Please help anyone out there.

    • Irene,
      I’m not in a position to give you legal advice through this blog but an SGO might not be a bad thing – I don’t know enough to say, but it is worth considering. You could ask the LA if they will fund you to get an hour or so’s legal advice. Some LAs will do this, other’s will not. If not, you might try something like the Coram Childrens Legal Centre who have a telephone line, or Family Rights Group who also have a telephone helpline. They might be able to advise you on options. The issues are probably about financial impact of different types of orders / statuses, and in terms of different support that might be on offer to you as carers, and in terms of security of placement for you and the children. If the children have suffered a bereavement you might be able to access services and support from social services as the children are probably “Children in Need”. Do speak to someone.

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