What are we entitled to

Mjc42
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:46 am

What are we entitled to

Postby Mjc42 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:33 pm

The social services contacted my wife to say that they would be taking her nieces daughter (c) into care, we had said that we would help and social services asked us to take her.

When my wife arrived the worker persuaded her niece to enter into a voluntary arrangement rather than go through the courts. We have now been told that had they gone through the courts we would have got funding but at the minute we receive money from c's mother on a voluntary basis ( child benefit and tax credits).

It is clear that the niece will not be getting her daughter back and we are discussing long term care. We are having a battle with the council over funding. They say we can not have any and are now talking about a residence order and have said that even foster carers don't receive money under such orders.

We have 2 boys already and I earn enough that our child benefits is reduced by half . The issue we have is that prior to this my wife was self employed but can not now work now as c is only one year old so money is tighter than it was.

We are not doing this for the money but everyone we have spoken to says that the council have a reputation for not giving the full facts about what we can be entitled to.They are now talking about a residence or special guardianship order and that there is no funding.

We are meeting with the worker and her manager next week. If we are not entitled to anything then that is fine as we will still going to look after her but I believe the council are manipulating the process to ensure they do not have to pay anything and would like to be able to discuss issues with them with at least some knowledge.

Any help appreciated

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ied53
Posts: 2100
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:26 pm

Re: What are we entitled to

Postby ied53 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:49 pm

Unfortunately the la will say you agreed to a private arrangement so they will try and pay you nothing. Do you have any evidence that the la placed the child with you? With RO anyway the allowance is discreationary.As you haven't fostered her so would any SGO allowance be. It would also be means tested. There are carers earning less than you who get nothing. Hopefully someone else could suggest something but I fear the answer will be you are unlikely to get anything or very little. Incidentally you would loose the cb and tax credits to as the mother could no longer claim them once you have child under an order
Irene
Grandparent carer in Lincolnshire
Tough times never last tough people do

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David Roth
Posts: 2022
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: What are we entitled to

Postby David Roth » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:13 pm

Hi Mjc42, and welcome to the discussion forum.

A lot of the answers to your questions will depend on exactly what happened at the time your great-niece came to stay with you. There have been case law precedents, and a recent Local Government Ombudsman finding, that can be referred to.

If the local authority plays a major role in placing a child with family and friends carers, then the child ought to be considered a looked after child, unless the local authority agreed otherwise with the family and friends carers at the time they were making the placement.

At first sight, it might seem as though the local authority has dealt with this in such a way as to cover themselves against the child being looked after, because they got your wife to agree to taking the child as a private arrangement. If the child was looked after, then they ought to approve you as temporary foster carers, pay you a full fostering allowance, and assess you to be the child's foster carers. If it is a private arrangement, then they would have the power to assist you financially and in other ways, if they accepted that the girl was a child in need, but it is at their discretion.

The important question when it comes to the support you will get is therefore whether or not the child is looked after. Although the council did get your wife to agree to taking her as a private arrangement, part of the case law judgment governing these type of circumstances (the Southwark judgment) states that the carer has to give informed consent to it being a private arrangement. My question would be whether the local authority gave your wife information about the alternative legal arrangements that are possible, such as fostering the child. And was your wife given time to get independent advice about the meaning of the different types of arrangement. If the answers to these questions is no, then I think you are in a position to challenge the council's position that the girl is not looked after.

Furthermore, if she is looked after, then you stand a better chance of being financially supported under a SGO - although, as Irene says, you might well not pass the means test.

However, if the council does not accept these points, it might well be worth your while making a complaint - see our advice sheet 25 http://www.frg.org.uk/need-help-or-advice/advice-sheets

The Ombudsman's recent decision against Liverpool for not accepting that a child should have been looked after is the subject of another discussion thread - the ombudsman is very aware of the issues in these cases, and this is where you may end up if the local authority doesn't accept your complaint.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

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David Roth
Posts: 2022
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: What are we entitled to

Postby David Roth » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:36 am

A quick follow-up to yesterday's post. If you are going to make a complaint, I can provide you with details of the case law judgment and the Ombudsman's decision that it would be useful for you to refer to in your complaint, as the basis for the complaint would be that the council was not meeting its obligations under these judgments/findings.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser


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