York City Council back down and pay almost £20,000 to grandparents
The case involved two children who should have been looked after by York City Council but the children and their grandparents were badly let down by them. The local authority made the arrangements for the children to move in with their grandparents because the children’s parents were unable to look after them. York City Council advised the grandparents to apply for a Residence Order but failed to make an assessment or pay the Residence Order Allowance. The grandparents struggled to pay for the upkeep of the children who social services had asked them to look after. They thought that York City Council should help them provide for the children but the council refused.
Proceedings were issued at the High Court in March 2011 to judicially review York City Council’s decision not to pay this crucial financial support. York City Council backed down and awarded almost £10,000 in backdated support to each family plus ongoing financial support of £70 per child each week. The grandparents said ‘This money will make such a difference to the lives of our children and go someway to help prevent them living in poverty.’
‘We are thankful to Ridley & Hall for fighting our case and bringing us this far. This is a fight for the children we care for and for all the other children who may face this situation. 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. Social services should meet their legal responsibilities.’
Ridley & Hall had been assisting both families in their fight against York City Council. Susan Cawtherley and Rebecca Chapman of Ridley & Hall represented the children and their carers. The carers can not be identified for legal reasons. They are ecstatic that their cases have succeeded and the payments made.
The families feel that this support should have been paid from the start and not put them in a position where they were forced to take legal action in the High Court.
The Children Act places a responsibility upon local authorities to step in and care for children who cannot be adequately cared for by their parents or those with parental responsibility. Often local authorities will side step this obligation by claiming that a ‘private arrangement’ has been agreed between the carer and the child, thereby avoiding long-term responsibility including financial responsibility. This inevitably places a financial burden upon carers, who are not always family members and ultimately it is detrimental for the children who have already faced considerable difficulty and upheaval.
Susan Cawtherley and Rebecca Chapman commented ‘These two cases concern York City Council but this is happening all over the country and is not limited to particular local authorities. Damaged children need to know that the authorities are there for them in times of crisis and not, as has happened here, feel that they are instead trying to wash their hands of responsibility due to what comes down to monetary pressure from councils’ budgets. This financial support is vital for the wellbeing of the child where often the grandparents are on state pensions. ‘
Ridley & Hall Solicitors, Queens House, 35 Market Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2HL
Susan Cawtherley – contact number 01484 538 421