I will do a complete round up on this topic soon but a couple of preliminary thoughts.
The Regulations do not say that SG allowances can only be paid for 2 years - they say that the remuneration element of a foster care allowance cannot continue to be paid to a former foster carer beyond 2 years.
The payment of all residence/ kinship / SG allowances are essentially dependent on council led policies and cannot be committed to for a child's minority.
Government guidelines on calculating SG allowances which have been adopted almost wholesale by many local authorities specifically state that if the SG is in receipt of income support the maximum allowance should be paid without the need for means testing. Case law and current practice indicate that the same amounts should be on offer to a kinship carer, foster carer or SG (less the remuneration element).
The fact that a lay person, often unrepresented and unadvised, chooses to accept an amount offered by the LA does not remove the burden on the LA to assess their needs and apply their own policy to that person's situation.
I would be really interested in feedback about this to provide some definitive answers. This is a thorny topic and currently one it is difficult to deal with in court. Potential SG's in particular and they are often grandparents do not realise what they might be entitled to and are hesitant about asking for it for fear that they are seen as mercenary or as not being able to cope on their current income. I appreciate that there are policy issues to consider here: why should an SG carer or post care proceedings relative carer get more than the average single parent, for example. Why does a looked after child cost more? But as long as the current policies exist they should be applied fairly and transparently. I find myself baffled by the inconsistency of approach. Some allowance decisions in LAs are being made at a panel level - perhaps we should be routinely asking for the minutes? In any event you should be routinely asking for copies of the policy documents, not to mention the actual calculations applied to decide what amount should be paid to a particular carer.
Family Justice Research Bulletin – 4 March, 2014 - The Research Bulletin series is the government’s way of providing a summary of the findings related to recent research on family … Continue reading →
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