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Christmas Came Early for Grandparent

by in GLC posted .

A London grandmother is delighted to find out that the local authority will pay her just under £23,000 for backdated special guardianship allowance.

The grandmother (TT) cannot be named for legal reasons.

TT had been requested by social services to care for her son’s ex-girlfriend’s child, C, from a different father.  This is because both of C’s parents had received long prison sentences after he was born.  At first he went into foster care while London Borough of Merton Council tried to find a more permanent placement for him.  Unfortunately his family were not willing to look after him, therefore the council approached TT.

When TT agreed to look after C the council asked her to get a court order which would give her parental responsibility for C, known as a special guardianship order (SGO). In certain circumstances when a SGO has been made the council can have a responsibility to provide support to the child and their carer, which can take the form of regular financial allowance (SGO allowance).

TT was also caring for her granddaughter who shared the same mother as C.  Both children had significant difficulties including post traumatic stress disorder and behavioural issues.  TT gave up her job to look after the children and was in receipt of benefits.  She had a very low income and was struggling to maintain the children and she asked the local authority to consider her for a SGO allowance for C.

The local authority’s policy for SGO allowances was based on paying two thirds the rate of the core fostering allowance.  This went to court in June 2012 where the policy was found to be unlawful.  The local authority was ordered to draft a new policy by December 2012 which they have recently completed.

Under the new policy the local authority have calculated that TT was due £22,978.08 as backdated pay.

TT said:
“This is the best Christmas present I could have wished for. I took the children on out of love and I wanted to give them a good start in life.  I brought the proceedings out of necessity as I could not afford to keep the children.  I have been living through a financial nightmare. I had to give up the car and went into debt, to the extent that I could not even use catalogues to buy things.

“I am absolutely delighted with the payout and I could not sleep when I first found out.  It will make a wonderful Christmas for the children.  I intend to wipe away the debt and buy a car and I will then be able to secure the children’s future with me”.

Rebecca Chapman of Ridley & Hall Solicitors, acting for TT, said:

“I am really pleased that TT has received the increased allowance and will be able to continue to look after the children without the financial worries which have existed since 2010.

“However, TT should have just been paid the right allowance from the beginning. It is unfortunate that she had to take the matter to court, which has meant that the council have had to pay legal fees, at a difficult financial time for councils.”

The court case is TT v London Borough of Merton [2012] EWHC 2055 (admin) and can be found at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/2055.html.

If you require anymore information please do not hesitate to contact Rebecca Chapman on 01484 538421 or email rebecca.chapman@ridleyandhall.co.uk.



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