New Year Celebration for West Cornwall Grandparent carers
A 64 year old grandmother is celebrating with her husband winning a battle for increased financial support with Cornwall County Council.
The background to the case is that for over 5 years 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 her. If they had not been ready to take on her care then she would have been placed with foster carers.
Cornwall Council advised the grandparents to go for a residence order. This meant that the County Council didn’t have to pay a fostering allowance.
They failed to make an assessment or advise the grandparents of their right to be paid a residence order allowance.”
She went on
“The grandparents struggled to pay for the upkeep of the child who social services had asked them to look after. They thought the Cornwall Council should help them provide for the child but they refused. When Cornwall eventually agreed a payment it was less than they should have received.
“Cornwall has now backed down. The final figure they are to pay has yet to be fixed but it will make a massive difference for them.
The grandparents’ victory is not just good news for them. It will impact on other grandparent carers on pension credit. It will result in extra payments of between £50.00 to £80.00 each week for each child placed in similar circumstances.
It is important for other carers because they have changed their policy on how they calculate the allowance each week. Residence order allowance is a discretionary payment and it is means tested. It is a bit technical but essentially Cornwall Council used income support figures in their calculations and not pension guaranteed income for people who have retired. There is a significant difference between the two figures. Using income support figures meant grandparents on pension credits were paid a lot less than they should have been.
Following representations by Ridley & Hall, Cornwall Council have changed their policy. In future when making the assessment the County Council will use the more generous figure of pension credit.
The grandparents cannot be named for legal reasons commented “We are delighted both for ourselves and others like us. This policy change will make such a different for them and other grandparents who have retired and are fighting to bring up their grandchildren on a limited budget.”
Bringing up your grandchildren is not the same as bringing up you own birth child. It cost far more as the children have been through very difficult times and expert help is needed this costs money. We have read that it can cost up to £200,000 to bring up a child. Experts say that it costs more to look after a child who has had a chaotic lifestyle. Grandparents who are on pension credit and the extra money we receive as pensioners should not be used by the local authority to reduce the residence order allowance.”
Susan Cawtherley commented ‘This case concerns Cornwall County Council but this is happening all over the country. It is not limited to particular local authorities. We are very pleased that Cornwall Council has changed the policy on making the financial assessments for grandparent or anyone of pension age. We are hoping that other local authority’s follow Cornwall’s decision
For more information contact Susan Cawtherley on 01484 538421 or Nigel Priestley on 07885 430085