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Victory for battling Lancashire grandma!

A Lancashire grandmother has been celebrating winning a victory against Lancashire County Council.

In 2018 the 65 year old grandmother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had deep concerns about the safety of her grandchildren. She reported these to Social Services. In September 2018, she was asked by a Lancashire County Council Social Worker to look after her granddaughter. Later in the year she took on the responsibility for grandson.

Commenting on the situation, the grandmother said “My grandchildren are, and always have been my priority. At the time that my granddaughter came to me I was recovering from a serious health condition. I had had a major operation. It never crossed my mind not to take her. We are a tight family and I wouldn’t have seen either of the children go into foster care.

“It was a complete change for me. Both children presented with some challenging behaviour. They were very demanding. The local authority left me to it. I saw a Social Worker about once a month. Lancashire didn’t provide any help or advice and by June 2019, they had withdrawn from the case. They seemed happy about the care I was providing. The children went to school on time, properly dressed and my grandson’s behaviour at school really calmed down.”

“The main problem for me was money. Lancashire paid me nothing. I couldn’t work. I had savings when the children were placed with me but over time these disappeared. Children are expensive as any parent knows. The Local authority expected me to ferry the children to contact – but I was never paid expenses.

By Christmas 2019 I was in debt. I had no money to buy the children any Christmas presents.”

The grandmother was put in contact with Huddersfield based Ridley & Hall Solicitors by Grandparents Plus. They are the national kinship care charity committed to ensuring that kinship carers and the children they are raising are recognised, valued and supported.

Ridley & Hall are the leading experts in the country for fighting for grandparent’s rights.

Nigel Priestley, Senior Partner, who represented the grandmother said “I was shocked when I heard what had happened. The law for grandparents and kinship carers is well established. Where the local authority places the child with a relative as an alternative to foster care, they must assess the grandparent and pay them as if they were foster carers. The child is a “looked after” child. This places responsibilities on the local authority. Lancashire should have known better.”

He went on “Research shows that kinship care works – but that many carers get into financial difficulties. Carers have not usually budgeted for suddenly having to pay for Children’s clothes, trainers, phones, pizzas – all the expenses that come with raising a child in 2020!”

Mr Priestley challenged Lancashire about its failure to support the grandmother. They eventually caved in and admitted their responsibility. The County Council have now paid her over £19500 back pay representing the fostering allowances she should have received since September 2018.

The grandmother commented “It was like getting a late unexpected Christmas present, the best I’ve ever had! I don’t know what I would have done without it. I was desperate – I was in debt and didn’t know where to turn. I had no idea what my rights were until I spoke to Mr Priestley.

“I’m afraid that there may be many other grandparents who are in my position. I would urge them to get specialist legal advice. Grandparents Plus were so helpful. It’s clear to me that Social services were never going to tell me about Lancashire’s responsibilities. My advice is – get a solicitor who knows what he’s doing!”

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