Foster carer grandmother wins battle against city council
A 69 year old Grandmother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, from Altrincham, has been battling against Manchester City Council to be paid the correct allowance after Social Services placed her grandchild with her. She was fighting for the right to be paid as a foster carer.
Commenting, the Grandmother said:-“I came to fostering late. I was 54 when I first started fostering. I was approved for taking three children. I had always specialised in looking after teenagers, many of whom have had very difficult childhoods. I have loved fostering and I believe that children should take a pride in themselves. I have been able to give them routine. I will not tolerate shouting or swearing. I believe, very strongly, in rewarding good behaviour.
I believe it is important to keep on learning. For that reason, I have been working towards getting my NVQ Level 3. I will be almost 70 when I have completed the course. I believe that age isn’t a barrier to keep on learning good practice for looking after children.
When Social Services placed my granddaughter with me, she was 11 and had had a very difficult time. I was not expecting to have to take responsibility for my grandchild when I was 68. As a foster carer, I had the benefit of additional loyalty payments. I was also in line for a significant increase in payments once I completed my NVQ Level 3.
Manchester City Council wanted me to apply for a Special Guardianship Order. This would mean that my granddaughter stopped being the responsibility of the City Council. I was happy to do this. I was not happy when, once I had made the application, I was told by the Council that I would not keep the loyalty payments in respect of my grandchild when another foster child who is with me, reached 18. I was also not going to get the extra payment under the NVQ Level 3.
Once it became clear that I could lose out by as much as £200 per week, I contacted Nigel Priestley at Ridley & Hall.
I am delighted that the Council have seen sense. I have realised just how important it is for people in my situation to get good legal advice”.
Nigel Priestley, Senior Partner with Ridley & Hall , Solicitors in Huddersfield, a firm that specialises in supporting family and friends carers said:-“My client wasn’t expecting, at her time of life, suddenly to have to take on the responsibility for her grandchild. It is vital when Social Services ask relatives to step in that carers get good advice. In this case, it took Manchester quite a long time to recognise their responsibilities. They started paying £72 per week in September 2009. This then increased in March 2010 with a further increase in April 2010 until my client was paid £177.00 per week. It was bureaucratic madness that on the one hand she was being paid a full fostering allowance for one child in her care as a foster carer whereas she was receiving over £100 per week less for her granddaughter. Just because a child is related, it doesn’t mean that they cost less!
Manchester’s decision means that after completing an NVQ Level 3, she will be almost £200 per week better off when the loyalty payment is included.
It took Manchester over 12 months to make a back-payment to make up for the money that she should have been paid. This story confirms the research evidence that when Grandparents step into the breach, they and the child for whom they are caring can often find themselves in serious financial difficulty. I am delighted by the successful outcome for this case”.