A woman who has looked after now 11-year old grandchild for the last nine years has succeeded in a bid for financial support from her local authority.
In KS (By Her Litigation Friend) V Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the child had gone to live with their maternal grandmother at the age of just two after Bradford District Council became concerned about conditions in her daughter’s home. The child had not been properly supervised and had also been exposed to domestic violence and alcohol abuse.
The move was arranged by the Council, but neither the legal status of the placement nor the woman’s new status in relation to her grandchild were recorded.
Subsequent case reviews concluded that the child was better off with her grandmother and should stay with her but the Council continued to insist that the youngster were not a ‘looked after’ child, as defined by sections 20 and 22 of the Children Act 1989. Therefore the grandmother was not entitled to financial support.
She applied for a judicial review of this decision.
Sitting in the Queen’s Bench Division, Judge Clive Heaton QC noted that the local authority had been the instigator of the child’s move to the grandmother’s home and had also been very active in managing the placement. It took a close interest in the child’s welfare and regularly held meetings to discuss progress.
The judge concluded that the placement had never been a private arrangement and the youngster did meet the criteria for formal ‘looked after’ status, so the Council’s ruling was quashed. The grandmother was now entitled to a payment equivalent to the Council’s weekly allowance for carers backdated to three months before she had made her application for a judicial review.