Fostering grandmother let down by London borough

Children|September 18th 2017

A London grandmother who took on the care of her grandson is to receive four years-worth of backdated foster payments from the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

She had taken in her grandson when social workers in the Borough grew concerned that the boy’s mother couldn’t look after him properly and said they would start care proceedings unless she became a so-called ‘friends and family’ foster carer for the youngster. But they did not inform her that she would likely be entitled to official help with her fostering expenses.

Over the next few years the grandmother suffered increasingly severe financial hardships. She ran up debts and complained that she had no carpets and little furniture, was sleeping on a mattress on the floor and couldn’t afford to heat her home in winter. She repeatedly asked the council for financial assistance but was refused each time.

Finally the council relented, acknowledged her circumstances and agreed to pay her £129 per week. But four years had passed by that point and they refused to backdate the payments to when she had first began looking after her grandson.

She complained to the Local Government Ombudsman, who has now concluded that the Borough should have properly assessed her financial circumstances when she became a foster carer, and that it had repeatedly failed to do so in the subsequent four years

Ombudsman Michael King said councils must be aware of their duties in such cases, especially when the affected families are vulnerable.

“When they are involved in making care arrangements, councils must give families clear information about the help available to them and who will be financially responsible for the child.”

He added:

“Greenwich council missed numerous opportunities to help this grandmother and, when it did realise its duty towards her and her grandson, decided not to backdate the support she was due. This must have had a significant impact on the boy’s welfare.”

In addition to the backdated payments, the council has agreed to issue an apology and to pay the grandmother a further £500 in compensation for distress caused.

A spokesman for the council explained:

“The Council has accepted the findings of the report and is implementing the recommendations of the Local Government Ombudsman. The report acknowledged that the case is historical and improvements that have been made since, including that Children’s Services are now rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted. It was also acknowledged that the Council correctly interpreted the law on backdating payments but the Ombudsman decided to rule in favour of the complainant. The Council has accepted this position, has apologised and awarded compensation.”

The Local Government Ombudsman’s report is available here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Dr. Manhattan. says:

    “£500 in compensation for distress caused”
    After 4yrs thats more like a slap across the face.

  2. Phillip Stallwood says:

    £500 is a rather paltry compensation amount for 4 years hardship. It equates to just £125 per year, a very mean amount.

  3. Maureen says:

    There are many many families living in hardship across our country.
    And many of them have children who are children in need and are getting refused allowances from there local authorities.
    Many have had to give up ther jobs to look after other people’s children and now find themselves with no help or financial support.

  4. Maria says:

    I took both my grandsons on one at the age of one an the second at 10months they are now age 6/7 and was told by my local services because i am family i wasnt entitled to anything not even help with clothes as they came with nothing it was only the last 3 years when i got gauardian ship was i entitled to financial help its wrong people should be entitled to financial help from the minute the child is with you

    • Dr. Manhattan. says:

      it seems to be the general theme that the SS never notify people of any information that could help them.
      its like dealing with Mi5.

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