£45,000 awarded to grandparents to help care for their grandchild
A grandmother is celebrating with her husband after winning a battle for increased financial support with Plymouth County Council following the High Court granting leave to appeal. Once leave to appeal was granted Plymouth back down.
The background to the case is that from 2008 the grandparents have been caring for their granddaughter.
Susan Cawtherley, the lawyer who represented the grandparents from specialist law firm Ridley & Hall said: “The local authority made the arrangements for child to move in with her grandparents because the child’s parents were unable to look after the child. If they had not been ready to take on her care then she would have been placed with foster carers. The grandparent received a telephone call from social services asking them to pick their grandchild up from school. It turned the grandparents and the child’s life upside down. It was a social worker saying they were putting the child into foster care – ‘they wanted to see if we could look after our grandchild – preferably permanently’ Of course they took their grandchild in.
“The grandparents struggled to pay for the upkeep of the child who social services had asked them to look after. They thought that Plymouth Council should help them provide for the child but they refused. Plymouth Council eventually agreed a payment that was appropriate but only after the case has been given leave to appeal in the High Court.
Plymouth Council have now backed down and agreed to pay financial support. The final figure is a £45,000 lump sum. It will make a massive difference for them. Bringing up your grandchildren is not the same as bringing up your own birth child. It costs far more because the children have been through very difficult circumstances and expert help is needed, which costs money. We have read that it can cost up to £200,000 to raise a child. Experts say that it costs more to look after a child who has had a chaotic lifestyle.
Children in this situation are often in shock. They have lived in a traumatic situation. They are upset and scared. They can show their feelings by being quiet and withdrawn, angry and rude, or they may follow their grandparents around and cry, wanting attention and reassurance. Grandparents have to give up their retirement years. They were looking forward to being grandparents and spoiling their grandchild as grandparents do.
Now they are acting as parents with the full responsibility involved in bringing up children day to day. Their freedom, independence, holidays with friends and their social lives changed overnight. They gave up their retirement years because they love their grandchildren.
The carers cannot be identified for legal reasons. They are pleased they have got this far, but the family feels that this support should have been in place from the start and not put them in a position where they were forced to take legal action in the High Court.
All across the country relatives have to step in and care for children let down by the system. These children are already damaged children and to be let down by the system in this way is unacceptable. Grandparents need help to care for their grandchild. At 30 years old they can do this but bringing a young child up and providing day to day care is much hard at 60 and above. Social Services should meet their legal responsibilities.’
Susan Cawtherley commented ‘This cases concern Plymouth Council but this is happening all over the country. It is not limited to particular local authorities.”