Skills Payments & Others

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RNB
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:25 pm

Skills Payments & Others

Post by RNB » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:18 pm

I'm hoping someone can help me with the below please.

In July 2015 my ex's son was placed with me. In November 2017 I was awarded an SGO for him. In between those too dates I became aware that I possibly should have been assessed as a foster carer for him and started complaint proceedings with the LA.

In January 2018 the ombudsman found that indeed I should have been and the council agreed. They then paid me backdated fostering allowance, which I finally recieved in October 2018 as well as a backdated amount of special guardian allowance. However the fostering amounts were not protected for at least two years as per the regulations.

I was also unsure how it had been calculated as I was expecting that I would have also recieved skills payments, as had the training been offered I would have completed it. Eventually I was told by the ombudsman that I would have to lodge a new complaint with the LA, which I did several times but it didn't get started officially until January 2019.

It took a long time (again) to get through the process but I was finally able to take it back to the ombudsman in September 2020. The ombudsman made his final decision in January this year, stating "that on the balance of probabilities it is unlikely that Mr C would have fullfilled the criteria to qualify for the payments between July 2015 and November 2017 and therfore he has not suffered an injustice."

He took that decision as he felt that I had had the opportunity to show a commitment to the training, but that I had still not taken the opportunity.

I showed him that in 2018 I joined the scouts and went through several of their training courses that year and that in 2019 I had a lot of personal commitments, as well as dealing with my SG son, who had threatened me with a knife in the February and kicked a number of doors through resulting in the police being called, he was eventually charged, I supported him through the whole process, and in the June my then fiancé had a operation that had a 2-3 month recovery time, meaning I needed to look after her, her daughter, my two daughters and my SG son.

I feel that the onus should be on the LA as had they acted correctly in 2015, I would have done the training as it was a requirement and as such I not only would have had more skills to help my SG son, I'd have also been able to access the skills payments.

To compound matters the ombudsman mentioned the Fostering National Minimum Standard, which I not heard of before. On reading that document I found that the LA would have also supported me with applying for disability benefits, which I didn't end up doing until August 2017 after my work coach suggested it to while I was applying for job seekers as I'd lost my job due to not being able to keep to my contracted hours. I was leaving work early and taking time off too often due to my SG sons issues, getting excluded and eventually expelled in February 2017.

I feel that over the last 5 years we have suffered many injustices due to the council error, many of which can no longer be rectified as that time has passed. However I do feel that the council can make reparation for the financial loses and that throughout I have done all I was asked to do and for the most part been very proactive over that time period.

Please can you let me know if you have any previous knowledge of someone in a similar position receiving any of the below?

1) Skills Payments as if the training had been offered earlier I would have done it even if that meant not joining the scouts. The training would have given me more tools to support my SG son through what has been a very difficult time.

2) At Least two years protected Foster Carers payments, after becoming an SGO.

3) DLA payments he would have been entitled and the subsequent increases in Tax Credits over the two year period before he was finally awarded middle rate DLA in 2017.

4)Fostering Tax Breaks, not sure how this could be figured out but I have all my wage slips etc from the period in question.

5) Appropriate compensation for all the suffering this has caused my SGO, my daughters and myself.

Cheers
RNB

P. S Appologies for the length :)

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 771
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Skills Payments & Others

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:33 pm

Dear RNB

Welcome to the Board.

Firstly, please accept my apologies for not responding sooner, your post seemed to have ‘slipped through the net’. In response to your questions, whilst I cannot tell you of someone who has had the same experience as you have had I can respond with some general suggestions.

1) It may be difficult for you to ‘prove’ that you would have been successful in ‘the training’ had it been offered, however, we shall never know this because it was not. Perhaps it might be useful for you to ask the LA for clarity about how they apply their training to foster carers who are in their employ and foster carers from ‘other routes’ such as family and friends (kinship) carers. Additionally, you might ask the LA what support they would normally give a child or young person who was in care and who has presented with the needs your SG son had.

2) Protected payments after SGOs are granted. You could argue that the LA did not explained their allowances and or payments procedures sufficiently to you and did not give you the relevant paperwork to help you in fully understanding financial support relevant to your personal situation.

3) Children’s services departments have policies about how DLA is paid to ‘foster children’ and or foster carers, if you were never given this policy then it may be something that you can ask to be supplied with retrospectively covering the year(s) you mention. Citizens Advice have a good deal of information about this subject, do have a look at their site.

4) The local authority will have to answer this question – again, do ask for their policies.

5) It may be a ‘long shot’ but you may want to suggest to the LA the type/amount of compensation you think that you should be granted.

For your information Community Care has an article which may be interesting to you; the charity Kinship (formerly Grandparents Plus) may be able to advise you further; and here is a link to the Government’s Special Guardianship Guidance to local authorities.

Best wishes

Suzie

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